2018 Curatorial Prize: Ultra Vivid Dreaming Photo Exhibition
Curated by Ashley Stull Meyers, Ultra Vivid Dreaming features photography and video work by two emerging artists that upends art historical legacies of portrait making and instead introduces contemporary studies of the body that are divorced from notions of "revealing". The two exhibiting photographers, Shikeith and Elliott Jerome Brown Jr., create images that are “ultra vivid” in color, composition, and focus on seemingly mundane environments with surreal undertones. The bodies pictured exist as if in a dream-state, where the subject's formal attributes and vulnerabilities are carefully considered by the photographer. While these works exist as contemporary representations of Black bodies and Queerness, they also critique the pervasive consumption of Black imagery and culture by an otherwise negligent audience. The subjects of the photos obstruct access to their identities and innermost selves through intentional postures that obscure full visibility, providing only a level of detail tangible in an ultra vivid dream.
Elliott Jerome Brown Jr. (b. 1993) is a conceptual photographer based in Brooklyn, New York, whose work focuses on intimacy, vulnerability, and social perception. He graduated in 2016 with a BFA from New York University and recently finished a residency at Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine. His work has been exhibited in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Prague, and Michoacán, Mexico, where he also did a residency at RedLab Laboratorio de Gestión y Vinculación Cultural A.C. In addition to a visual practice, he is also the curator of DATE NIGHT, an interdisciplinary exhibition set in various homes.
Shikeith (b. 1989) is a multi-disciplinary visual artist and filmmaker originally from Philadelphia, PA. He holds a BA from The Pennsylvania State University and he is a 2018 MFA candidate in the sculpture department of Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut, where he currently lives. Shikeith’s public programs and group and solo exhibitions have been held at national and international venues such as the MAK Gallery in London; the Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit; MoMA, the Aperture Foundation, and the Vera List Center in New York City; Pittsburgh’s Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Morehouse College in Atlanta; the Seattle Art Museum; and the Wrocław Contemporary Museum in Poland, among others. Shikeith's critically acclaimed documentary “#Blackmendream" (featured in this exhibition) was made possible by funding from multiple grants from The Pittsburgh Foundation and was named by the Tribeca Film Institute as one of ten films that capture the meaning of Black life in America. Shikeith is also the founder of Emerging Black Art.
Ashley Stull Meyers is a writer, editor and curatorial collaborator. She has curated exhibitions and programming for the Wattis Institute (San Francisco), Eli Ridgway (San Francisco), the Oakland Museum of California, Newspace Center for Photography, Blue Sky Gallery, and Bridge Productions (Seattle, WA). She has been in academic residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (Omaha, NE) and the Banff Centre (Banff, Alberta). She is Northwest Editor for Art Practical, and has contributing writing to Bomb Magazine, Rhizome, Arts.Black and SFAQ/NYAQ. In 2017 Meyers was named the The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Director and Curator of the Art Gym and Belluschi Pavilion.