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The Nat Turner project brings three mini-exhibits to the Cannon Gallery

Chrys Weedon | Entertainment Editor

Nat Turner was a Black man that led the 1831 Southampton County slave rebellion — the only large-scale slave rebellion in American history. It is after him that the Nat Turner Project is named, a project whose goal is to give a voice to artists of traditionally marginalized groups.

The two members of the Nat Turner Project are Melanie Stevens and maximiliano. They state their mission statement as follows: “NTP allows artists of color to go beyond the usual initial expositions inherent in presenting art borne of marginalized perspectives to a dominant culture; allowing artists of color freedom to create or express their own language within and without the parameters of racial commodification or designation.”

The project has recently introduced three new mini-exhibits into the Cannon Gallery of Art in Campbell Hall. Artists Carla Javier-Brea, Holland Andrews and Alejandra Arias Sevilla are on display in the gallery, which opened on Feb. 20.

“I think each of the artists, all of whom I’ve been long time admirers of, are using print and illustration in these really beautiful, soft, and intimate ways.  Each of them, of course, is very different,” said Stevens. “However, I think the that the way Alejandra Arias Sevilla’s work combines the formalities of print and language with social engagement pairs nicely against the rhythmic flow of Holland Andrews’ thoughtful studies of space and body. And Carla Javier-Brea creates these amazing characters that whisper of worlds past and future; memories long gone but lingering on.”

Javier-Brea was born in Berkeley, California to a Dominican family. Her passion for the Dominican Republic’s history and mythology heavily influenced the pieces hanging in the exhibit. “Criaturas que Nacen del Viento” is a series of drawings that are, according to the artist, “executed entirely in graphite, as a form of meditation… a representation of childhood, natural curiosity, and an embrace of the parts of our heritage that modern day colonialism still looks to erase.”

Holland Andrews is a self-taught artist based in Portland, OR, whose exhibit “Low Synth Bass” focuses on representations of the human body and ponders on the nuances of being seen. Andrews’s illustrations are simultaneously minimal and emotional.

The exhibit’s program writes: “frequently highlighting themes surrounding visibility, vulnerability, and identity, Andrews chooses to create a world in which subversion of the status quo is seen for its elegance and power.”

Alejandra Arias Sevilla is a Mexican artist who is also based in Portland, OR. Her work “los susurros de mi ser” focuses on: “the limbo and duality of two opposing identities.” Sevilla’s pieces are done in letterpress and consist of stories and poems in both her native Spanish and in English, touching on the reality of code-switching and hiding parts of her identity in order to assimilate. The intricacy of Sevilla’s work reflects the experience of intersection of two cultures and two identities.

“Garima Thakur gave us this amazing opportunity, and we have been fans and following the work of Carla, Alejandra, and Holland … and love to be able to exhibit it and pay them,” commented maximiliano.


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Photo courtesy of Paul F. Davis