The Gallery by Origin Bank, Member FDIC at Monroe Regional Airport and the Masur Museum of Art proudly present:
Escapism: Places & Spaces
An exhibition featuring the work of Rodrecas Davis
On view NOW through February 28, 2018
Rodrecas Davis is an Associate Professor of Art at Grambling State University. Escapism: Places & Spaces features First in Flight, a small series of work the Masur Museum of Art commissioned
for his exhibition at The Gallery by Origin Bank, Member FDIC. Davis’ rich visual language deals with themes of travel, escape, and black identity using, African folk tales, Hip Hop, Jazz, and
other references. His bold color palette and crisp silhouettes create an empowering energy that invites visitors and travelers at the airport to consider their motivations for travelling, as well as
their worth. Come and see all that is happening at the Monroe Regional Airport!
Gallery Reception & Artist Talk: Fall/Winter TBD
Monroe Regional Airport
The Gallery by Origin Bank, Member FDIC
5400 Operations Road, Monroe, LA 71212
Drek Davis’ Artist Statement
The works created for the show have multiple points of origin: a consideration of the actual physics of flight, an African folktale and the literary work of Toni Morrison.
In the strictest sense, fight is about breaking the bonds of gravity in order to claim a semblance of freedom. This came to mind when planning pieces to best inhabit an airport. Flight and freedom, in a contemporary sense, are class-based activities. These threads are also woven into narrative of the African Diaspora. Via the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, a folktale with origins in the Igbo people speaks of the people who could fly. It’s a throughline in several feature films dealing with the effects of African slavery. As told in Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales,
“They say the people could fly. Say that long ago in Africa, some of the people knew magic. And they would walk up on the air like climbin’ up on a gate. And they flew like blackbirds over the fields. Black, shiny wings flappin’ against the blue up there.”
This version is reiterated in Haile Gerima’s Sankofa. In Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, the alternate telling centers on enslaved Africans claiming their liberty and walking across the water back to Africa. In both instances, it is the power of faith and self-actualization that allows one to “fly free”. This literal, and figurative flight is represented by the recurring birds in the works The King - Fego (Fly Upwards), The Queen - Fego (Fly Upwards), The Group - Ijeoma (Farewell), and The Flock - Fenaba (Fly Home). Seven birds, and seven steps to heaven.
The companion pieces created for this show (Stamps Paid) are based, in part, on a character from Toni Morrison’s Beloved. The character Stamp Paid resonates with me for two reasons. 1) He chose his name, as act of self determination and freedom, and 2) his purpose was to act as a ‘liberation agent’; he ferried souls along the Underground Railroad into a new existence. Whenever I receive a piece of metered postage, I always think of that character and how the stamps on packages are also manifestations of a type of boundless freedom. In particular, the stamps used in these works feature images of people of African and Indigenous descent that were pioneering liberation agents in their own right. Their personage is the foundation for the elevation of many.
Lastly, while all of the works are influenced by music, the title of the exhibition is a contraction of two specific songs; one by James Brown and the other by Jazz musician Donald Byrd. Both recordings are staples in Hip Hop culture, itself a type of liberation agent, and both deal with self-actualization and migration as a means of catalyzing change and claiming power. It is those notions I hope to convey in these works. Looking onward, and upward, and finding oneself elevated.
Down here on the ground, Watching sparrows fly...
Down Here on the Ground
Lyrics by Lou Rawls
Media Contacts: Evelyn Stewart,
Director Benjamin Hickey, Curator
About the Masur Museum of Art
The Masur Museum of Art is the largest collecting and exhibiting institution of modern and contemporary art in Northeast Louisiana. We are dedicated to bringing dynamic public programming to our community that emphasizes artists from Louisiana, the Southeast, and around the world.
The Masur Museum of Art is a division of the City of Monroe’s Department of Community Affairs. Exhibitions and educational programs are funded by the Twin City Art Foundation. Programs of the Masur Museum are supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works. This project is also funded in part by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Further funding is provided by the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, CenturyLink Security Systems, Yellowbook 360, and DeltaStyle magazine. For more information about events and programing please visit masurmuseum.org, like us on Facebook, or call 318.329.2237.