“Pack a Pistol” exhibit explores post-colonialist approaches to art-making

Arts / Article

“Seat of Trouble” by Carina Maye. Photo courtesy of Tubman Museum

The Tubman Museum will host an opening reception for “Pack A Pistol,” a group exhibition featuring work from 12 contemporary artists collectively known as The Smoke School of Art. A reception will be held Friday, August 23 from 6-8 p.m., with a gallery talk by artists from the collective beginning at 6:40 p.m.

According to Tubman spokesperson Nicole Thurston, members of the Smoke School describe the group as β€œan Atlanta-based think tank that discusses and addresses contemporary philosophy and issues in modern art and culture.” The name Smoke School is derived from the fact that members often enjoy cigars at their weekly meetings at Atlanta’s Goat Farm Arts Center.

Mixed media painting by Jamele Wright.

Mixed media painting by Jamele Wright. Photo courtesy of Tubman Museum

“What unites these people is this post-colonialist idea,” explained Jeffrey Bruce, director of exhibitions at the Tubman Museum. “It’s interesting to me because every generation seeks to distinguish itself from whatever went before. So you think about black art, the big chunk of is 20th century, a lot of it is realist, colorful, identity-based, jazz-based. You get these ideas about what black art is. These people, of course, want to reject all of that and the European roots of it to create their own playing field.”

Colonialism, as described by Thurston, “is the establishment, maintenance and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. The legacy of colonialism is a set of unequal relationships between the colonizers and the indigenous populations”

The Smoke School defines post-colonialism is a post-modern intellectual discourse consisting of analysis of and reaction to colonialism. Their members assert “all modern art derives from Africa – all conceptual exercise is derived and conceived in the ancient ceremonies of the Dogon.”

The exploration of these ideas in each artist’s work has led to multiple and disparate approaches to art making. The cohesion is not in their approach to style or technique, but in their underlying desire to explore what it means to be post-colonialist art makers.

Painting by Julio Mejia

Painting by Julio Mejia. Photo courtesy of Tubman Museum

Members of the Smoke School are: Carla Aaron-Lopez, Carina Maye, Christopher Hutchinson, Deidra Tyree, D.S. Hathaway, Eric Mason, Jamele Wright, Jason Sweet, Julio Mejia, Michael Peterson, Michi Meko and special guest Alfred Conteh. The exhibit features photography, painting, mixed media prints, sculpture, conceptual and text-based works.

“Pack a Pistol” will be on display through October 19.

Tubman African American Museum: 340 Walnut St., Macon; 478-743-8544; www.tubmanmusem.com