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Caleb Jamel Brown: CrawlSpace
12pm - 5pm
2022/2023 Working Artist Project
This round of Working Artist Projects was curated by Drew Sawyer, Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator of Photography at the Brooklyn Museum
About the Exhibition
“Crawl spaces are dusty, dark, and often vermin-infested openings providing access to essential plumbing and wiring. In entering these spaces, I often need to get on hands and knees and wear long clothing, tucked in, to prevent insects from getting too close. Working in these spaces is not for the faint of heart. However, it is the foundation of a properly functioning home. CrawlSpace considers this hidden, often overlooked aspect of our life as a metaphor for unearthing familial histories and processing generational trauma… reflective shadow work, which, no matter its importance, can be equally bleak.
I use a myriad of media, from photography and installation to painting and sculpture, to investigate the intersections of Black American material culture, representation through abstraction, and familial memory. Much of my work is inspired by old vernacular photos from family members, the adornment of these spaces, hand-me-down garments, knick-knacks, and kitschy décor giving much of the work in CrawlSpace a devotional quality where the past and lives of elders are preserved and celebrated through objects and artefacts.
This work is situated in the lineage of Black American collage and assemblage. In these alchemy practices, material conflicts are inherent: How do we choose to represent ourselves and those dear to us? Some are medium specific: should an image be painted or photographed? Others are more divisive: can Blackness exist in the absences of black people (or a representational rendering of a black person)? In contributing to these conversations, CrawlSpace strives to honor and celebrate this rich cultural heritage, while critiquing the manner in which value is assigned and imagining this power in ways that revise, expand, and complicate the boundaries of traditional representation through the use of abstraction and upcycled materials.”
–Caleb Jamel Brown
Artist Talk/Q&A with Anna Akpele, May 18, 2023
About Caleb Jamel Brown
Caleb Jamel Brown (b. 1993) is a multidisciplinary artist and plumber from Atlanta, GA. Brown’s work often examines themes of Black labor and leisure in the South, craft traditions, our relationship to clothing/textiles, and overlapping psychological states. Utilization of abstraction and the vernacular as the foundation for larger cultural narratives is at the core of his practice. Caleb is a 2020 Mint Leap Year Fellow, holds a BFA from Valdosta State University and has participated in residencies throughout the United States and abroad including Shandaken: StormKing, New Windsor, NY; Mass MOCA; PATA, Lodz, Poland; Proyecto Ace, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Coleman Arts Center, York, Alabama; Aviario Portugal.
Major funding provided by the Charles Loridans Foundation, the Antinori Foundation, and the AEC Trust, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.