Meet the Artist: May 4th, 2 – 4pm Exhibition Dates: May 2 – 27, 2018
Within this Skin is a series of oil paintings that began as a response to a deep exploration into Breeze’s ancestral heritage, researching old records, wills, oral histories, and images, she traced back into the plantations where her family were enslaved. Breeze states, “I realized at a certain point, as an African American, my blood becomes the blood of all black and brown people. I realized that to trace my line of history was to trace a much larger history that moved from wound to wound, and survival after survival. I realized that I am the great great great great grand child of a line of power that has survived and suffered. That in far too many ways, is still suffering and surviving now. What I see and have seen in my reading, and study, and witness, as a brown person in this country is the incredible intersection of these realities, those of immense power, heart-breaking suffering, survival, grace, and impenetrable resilience."
Breeze’s paintings are made on closet doors, as she states, "because these black and brown voices have always lived in the thresholds of American history, both in and out, silenced and stigmatized." The Artist works in layers and layers of oil paint, dry pigments, ink, gesso and waxes, letting the surface build, thus cracking and breaking apart, “..the paint flowing along small veins and rivers, building a landscape that is as endless as the black souls that will inhabit the painting.”
In an artist statement, Breeze speaks of the poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes, and the soul inside it, she says, " it is this deep soul that lives in the surfaces of the paintings. Out of those surfaces, those skins, each figure comes forth. Speaking stories of lynchings, rape, slavery, fear and oppression, alongside something deeper, more powerful, endless like the rivers." She continues, “This stream that has flowed through all of the suffering of black and brown people to this very day, this very moment in our history of continued abuse, death, and oppression, flows into me, into my skin and my response is to trace back that unspeakable power through these works and the witnessing of them.”
I am a mother, black, and queer. These truths are beautiful, because they exist. These beauties weave themselves throughout my work because I am inseparable from them, just as the skin I am in.
My art wants to hold the mirror up, both for myself and for the world I witness around me. For me, Art making is the highest form of resistance and resilience. Resistance defined as the power to hold back and become impenetrable to, the oceans of oppression that threaten us at every turn. And Resilience in the holding of true power, creative expression and strength of soul in the midst of great suffering. The intersectionality I carry as an intersex, queer, black, mother, has given my art its own voice. Raised in a family of 10 brothers and sisters in the rural northwest United States, I have experienced racism, poverty, homophobia, misogyny and classism throughout my life. I have also found depths of spiritual reverence, study and refinement, human dignity, beauty, and wisdom. All of this becomes the foundation of the work I make.
A Meet the Artist event is scheduled for May 4th and is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact the Harwood Museum of Art at 575.758.9826 x 109 or go to harwoodmuseum.org.
Studio 238: Within this Skin, New Oil Paintings by Nikesha Breeze
- 238 Ledoux Street
- Taos, NM 87571
- Harwood Museum of Art
- Recurring weekly on Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday