Shabazz Larkin’s God Speaks Project — A Contemporary Art Class for Middle School Students

(Photo | Courtesy of Scalehouse Collaborative for the Arts)

Join Scalehouse Gallery’s current artist, Shabazz Larkin, for a tour and discussion of Larkin’s exhibition, Fragile Black Man as well as an interactive pop-art exercise writing notes from God (non-denominational/open to interpretation) and posting them around Downtown Bend. Larkin will be joining via Zoom from Nashville, Tennessee.

February 17, 2-3:30pm
February 17, 4-5:30pm
Each session will be 90 minutes.

Eight students in the gallery (include safety-measures)
Up to 20 on Zoom

Students will see/learn/explore: 
“I believe that God speaks from the vulnerability of our hearts and brings words of safety, validity and courage. I think this God Speaks Project is there to help us to listen to this voice. This workshop is there to encourage others to listen to share that voice in them as well,” says Shabazz Larkin.

What materials you will need: 
A notebook and an open and curious mind

What activities you can expect: 
Tour of Fragile Black Man exhibition, short video of Shabazz talking about “Finding Your Art,” Q+A with Shabazz, followed by interactive pop-art exercise writing exercises and discussions. 

RSVP 2pm Class

RSVP 4pm Class

Exhibition Manifesto by Shabazz Larkin

“The image in this exhibition of the fashionable man holding a flower is a picture of vulnerability often unseen in the Black community. The original photograph of this fashionable man was taken by a West African Photographer named Saydou Keita. 

“Keita liked to take photographs of rural African people dressed in the fashion of European imports from France and England. This is one of many from his archive to capture this gentrified version of West African culture.

“Most people think this is a self-portrait — it’s not — he just looks like me. I just loved seeing a Black man holding a flower. It brought me joy. So I drew it. I like to draw things that bring me joy. 

“Finding joy grew increasingly important as 2020 took a turn for the worst, watching murders of Ahmad Arbury, George Floyd and Elijah Mclain, it felt like Black Men (and women, like Breonna Taylor and Michelle Cusseaux) were being picked off by a very fragile system that has no conscious or commitment toward our existence.

“COVID began to close the walls in around me. A book tour was canceled. And most other plans were too. Including my employment and this show.

“The stress had me by the throat – so I returned to what brought me joy. I found myself drawing this image over and over again. The images presented to you in this exhibition is me working out how I felt about the world, with a process that brought me some release of what I’ve been feeling — and I suppose what many of us have been feeling in 2020.

“More like the process of painting Mandalas, these drawings were more a meditation than a creative exercise. Inspired more by my mindfulness practice. But one day I stepped back from them all and I just saw this beautiful expression of the diaspora of Black Men.

“This collection of images is a peek into the vast ocean of possibilities of who we are and can be.

But even with all the glory that comes from this diversity — a darker picture cannot be avoided. Every third of these portraits conveys this figure in an orange jumpsuit. An illustration of the uncomfortable and easily ignored and overly simplified-and-justified fact that every third Black man you meet will be inducted in the criminal justice system.

“These images are printed and stitched on cotton linen, often with live and frayed edges making unapologetic references to its source elements. If America was a startup, its first venture capitalists were the backs of Black people. A down payment on American dominance – paid in cotton and slavery.

“The flower in this exhibition, this picture of vulnerability seeks to subvert power in the same way 2020 has subverted everything we thought we knew.”

Scalehouse will follow state guidelines and allow a limited number of people in the gallery for the health and safety of our community, volunteers and gallerists. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing.

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