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VSU Art and Design presents Black Kirby In Search of The Mother Boxx Connection

Published date: January 23, 2013

The Virginia State University Department of Art and Design is presenting an exhibition by artists John Jennings and Stacey Robinson.  Black Kirby In Search of…The Mother Boxx Connection will run from February 5 through 28 in Meredith Art Gallery on the second floor of Harris Hall. An opening reception will be held Feb. 5 at 5:30 p.m. 

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Black Kirby… is a collaborative “entity” that is John “Pitch” Jennings and Stacey “Blackstar” Robinson. The introduction to this avatar is an exhibition of primarily works-on-paper that celebrates the incredible work of Jack Kirby and his contributions to the pop culture landscape. Black Kirby functions as a rhetorical tool by appropriating Kirby’s bold forms and energetic ideas, combined with themes centered around Afrofuturism, social justice, representation, magical realism and using Hip Hop culture as a methodology for creating visual communication. It also uses the notion of an alter-ego as a symbolic allegory for DuBoisian “double-consciousness” theory.

This collection of work samples from Kirby’s style, but remixes it with the formal and conceptual influences of many other artists, pop cultur, and artistic expressions. In a sense, Black Kirby uses the comics medium as a conceptual crossroads to examine identity as a socialized concept through bricolage, pastiche, oppositional juxtapositions and deconstruction. It is the artists’ hope to destabilize various ideas of “blackness” in order to examine certain nuances of its performance. The exhibit celebrates and investigates black power imagery and how the comics generated by a cadre of predominantly Jewish creators inspires some of the “freedom dreams’ of past, present and future Black creators.

John Jennings is an Associate Professor of Visual Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His research and teaching focus on the analysis, explication, and disruption of African American stereotypes in popular visual media. His research is concerned with the topics of representation and authenticity, visual culture, visual literacy, social justice, and design pedagogy. He is an accomplished designer, curator, illustrator, cartoonist, and award-winning graphic novelist. His work overlaps into various disciplines including American Studies, African American Studies, Design History, Media Studies, Sociology, Women and Gender Studies, and Literature. Jennings is co-author of the graphic novel The Hole: Consumer Culture, and co-curator of Out of Sequence: Underrepresented Voices in American Comics. His most recent book was curated with collaborator Damian Duffy and is entitled Black Comix: African American Independent Comics Art + Culture.

Stacey Robinson is an artist who examines the African-American experience, specifically the future. In a celebratory fashion, he accentuates the form. What many times is over-sexualized is honored in his work as the accentuation, elongation and distortion of his forms represent much more than the initial appearance. Inspired by Michelangelo, Ernie Barnes, Charles Bibbs and Robert Rauschenberg, Robinson ventured in a different direction, examining the future. His Afro-Futurist works consist of reoccurring motifs, which are symbols of technology and rebirth. Juxtaposing flesh with mechanical objects, the works comment on newness of life beyond the struggles of the past.

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