Abigail Ogilvy Gallery proudly presents its first solo exhibition by Boston based painter Lavaughan Jenkins. The exhibition, titled Miss Black America, is a powerful message that honors women past and present, embraces Blackness to address the marginalization of a group that is underrepresented in visual spaces, and is a demonstration of Jenkins’ personal resilience as an artist. As his career has developed, Jenkins has experimented with dimensional space, texture, and color. Heavily influenced by fashion, the resulting body of work is an explosion of dynamic patterns used to explore the intersection of race, womanhood, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The exhibition is named after a song released in 1970 by musician and activist Curtis Mayfield, and still the lyrics remain just as relevant today. The paintings themselves capture both the chaos of the past year as well as the hope for the future.
Gazing at the expressionless female figures central to Jenkins’ compositions, it is impossible not to wonder, who are these subjects that are able to command so much attention, display so much individuality and yet remain anonymous? Previously, each figure was a specific woman in the artist’s life who had personally impacted him in some way. In his recent paintings, there is a shift towards portraying women he has not met but who are making history for us, a remembering of the lives lost in the #SayHerName movement and a celebration of those alive and still fighting. As Jenkins describes, “I wanted to make paintings about them, praise them, share how I felt reading their stories.” That said, his personal history has still played an important role in developing this series. Jenkins and his mother spent a large part of the last year reconnecting with his grandmother and hearing her stories before she passed in July of this year. Embedded in the artwork are those conversations.
“My work is layered in Black history and pop culture embracing blackness as a signifier of difference to address the marginalization of blacks in the visual and occupied space. The black aesthetic of the figures along with the countenance of grieving, non heroic, the quiet get thrusted into the grand narrative of art.” – Lavaughan Jenkins
The exhibition is on view through August 29, 2021. For more information on the gallery visit – www.abigailogilvy.com