A shredded banner hangs from the ceiling with strips of white curling towards the ground. Next to it is an arrangement of close-to-wilting flowers clustered together on a pedestal.
This piece is part of the new Gelb Gallery Exhibit, “Stranger in the Village,” which opened last Wednesday night. The exhibit features Visiting Artist Mirland Terlonge and Diamond Grey, Teaching Fellow in Art. The opening reception showcased pieces of many different media, such as sound pieces, digital work, and flower arrangements.
Terlonge said, “[With the ribbon piece], I was very interested in separating out the the symbolism of the flag and pulling up the white as being purity and innocence. I wanted to also have that in this space thinking… ‘Is it true?’ ‘Is it real?’ ‘Are we really pure and innocent?’ To have that present alongside these things, I felt was also important for it to be casting a shadow in the way that it is.”
According to Grey, she chose to work with sound, as opposed to just visual pieces, to allow her mother and grandmother to tell their stories while keeping a tangible record of their voices.
“I realize that it’s important to keep a record of family history. And, once again, keep those stories going on, because I didn’t know these stories until I was 27. So that’s important. We have a lot of pictures at home, but I don’t have those pictures with me. So I wanted something for me here,” said Grey.
Terlonge chose to feature flowers in her project because of her family history with flowers.
“This is an experimental exhibition, so the process of making really opened me up to things to learn new things about myself. The flowers that I’ve been working with [are] a family tradition. My mom’s a floral designer, so that is something that allows me to be introspective to myself,” Terlonge said.
In her work, Terlonge decided to conceptualize themes such as death as well as issues like race and gender. According to Terlonge, her personal relationships with the world and those around her contributed to her inspiration when creating her pieces.
“Dealing with death and the proximity that I feel with death, whether it’s being a black woman and having nephews and male family, or even having female family members… Instead of being afraid and living in fear, I wanted to confront it in my work and be able to resolve it within myself,” she said.
According to Emily Ndiokho ’18, a viewer, both artists challenged social norms with their art and portrayed important aspects of identity in their pieces.
“I really appreciate the [art]… mainly because I always appreciate representations of myself or things similar to myself. I feel like her piece with showing a vulnerable black woman is not something I see very often,” said Ndiokho.