“For black people, moving through a given environment comes with questions of belonging and a self-determination of visibility and semi-autonomy. This means for the systemically disenfranchised, compositional movement—ways in which the body unifies, balances, and arranges itself to move through space—is a skill used in the service of self-emancipation within hostile geographies.”
Rhona Hoffman Gallery is pleased to open the fall 2018 season in our new West Town location with the gallery’s first solo show with Torkwase Dyson. James Samuel Madison, the exhibition’s title, refers to the artist’s maternal grandfather, who migrated from New Orleans to Chicago and represents a personal example of socioeconomically driven geographic relocation. Eight new large-scale paintings distinctly engage environmental histories of movement and displacement, from the Transatlantic slave trade, to the Great Migration, to climate change, which disproportionately affects populations in the Global South.
Exploring how the body unifies, balances, and arranges itself to move through natural and built environments, Torkwase Dyson abstracts specific shapes such as water tables, boats, and oil rigs to become expressive and discursive structures within the work. Precise linear geometries bisect and articulate expressive drips, washes, and gestures, while subtle grayscale surfaces reveal underlying hues of blue, red, and violet. Torkwase Dyson’s paintings draw from legacies of minimalism and expressionism, carving out open space for conversation and contemplation around the most pressing issues of our time.
Torkwase Dyson (born Chicago, works in New York) received a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999 and MFA from Yale School of Art in painting/printmaking in 2003. Working in multiple mediums, Torkwase Dyson describes herself as a painter whose forms address the continuity of ecology, geography, infrastructure, and architecture. She merges ideas such as site and built environments, nature and culture under the rubric of environmentalism. Fascinated with transformations, ambiguities and environmental changes that place these subjects in relationship to each other, her work revolves around investigating our connections to imagination, materiality, geography and belonging. Ms. Dyson’s work has been exhibited at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Franconia Sculpture Park, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington DC; her solo exhibition opens at Bennington College in Fall 2018. She has been awarded the Nancy Graves Grant for Visual Artists, Spelman College Art Fellowship, Brooklyn Arts Council grant, Yale University Barry Cohen Scholarship, the Yale University Paul Harper Residency at Vermont Studio Center, Culture Push Fellowship for Utopian Practices, FSP/Jerome Fellowship and Yaddo. Torkwase Dyson’s work has also been supported by the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, The Laundromat Project, the Green Festival of New York, Obsidian Arts and Public funds of the City of Minneapolis, Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia, The Kitchen, and Dorchester Projects in Chicago.
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