I was stirred with emotions upon viewing this SAM exhibit. I didn’t think leading up I’d be experiencing something like Kehinde Wiley and later proclaim, “It was the greatest art exhibit I may ever see in this lifetime!”. The vibrancy, scale and power emanating from these works just knocked me clean over. I felt empowered, like weights placed on myself and others (subconscious and conscious) for being different were being acknowledged, lifted and transmuted into this majestic “New Republic”.
It’s my understanding that we all perceive from different angles. And Wiley ignites a daunting list of perspectives to analyze. From identity to beauty, class, power, wealth, authority and who “fits” where, to name a few. I’ve taken in words from SAM (Seattle Art Museum, host to Wiley’s “A New Republic”, credits for these photos), the Complex Exchange talk with Cristina Orbe, Karen Toering, and Gabriel Teodros at NAAM, friends and Wiley himself. All have been engaging, weaving an ever more intricate web of energy and reaction.
For me, a recurring word that appears when I view these pieces is “blueprint’. One of Websters definitions states, “a detailed plan or program of action” and I quite like that. When I look at many of the 60+ pieces by Wiley at SAM, I take in this grand presentation of humanity. I’m either viewing people in this kind of ideal, celebrated (and natural in ways) form, or a theme gone awry, such as incarceration/confinement and death by devious means. Overall though, the exhibit leans to the positive side in my eyes. The program initiated in many of these works for humanity is one where individuality, love, self worth, strength and teamwork reign supreme.
For those near Seattle, these are the last few days of the exhibit ending Sunday, May 8th. Tonight (Thursday May 5th) you can get in at half price for the Downtown art walk from 6-9 . Keep your eyes on Wiley online, to see where his galleries will be headed next. And salute to this masterful artist, you and your team have raised the bar.
– Jimi Jaxon