The Radical Act of Taking Up Space
Curated by Kiara Cristina Ventura
(2019 Emerging Curator for the VisArts Emerging Curator Program)
November 6, 2019 – January 5, 2020
The Radical Act of Taking Up Space curated by Kiara Ventura, examines how eight young artists of color are redefining what taking up space means in today’s contemporary society. Mainly comprised of artists from Baltimore, the artists collectively present the many ways traditionally marginalized communities can alternatively create, transform and take up space as an act of survival, resistance, healing, celebration and/or confrontation. The Radical Act of Taking Up Space brings into focus the communities that are deliberately overlooked in the U.S. in which they are being pushed to the margins of society. By centering the narrative of the exhibition from their first-person perspectives, the exhibition and artists radically take up space within the gallery and beyond.
Through video, sculpture, photography, performance and painting, the artists activate viewers by stirring conversations around visibility, representation, agency and inclusion with their work. They collectively speak to their communities, and inherently those who are not from their communities, to engage dual dialogues; communal internal and external conversations meant to be had to progressively reach a point of understanding and therefore a solution involving support from allies. At its core, the artists as a unit speak to the Baltimore, low-income, African-Diasporan, Latinx, immigrant and queer communities. The Radical Act of Taking Up Space includes artists Devin Allen, Murjoni Merriweather, Moréna Espiritual, Charles Johnson, Khari Johnson Ricks, Tanya Garcia, Samantha Vassor and Amani Lewis.
As a way to create an interpretive strategy that further interrogates the various themes explored in the exhibition, a number of programs are being organized by the curator in collaboration with cultural producers from the region. All together, the programs activate the exhibition through dance, music, discussion, and education with engaging community and discourse in mind.
About the 2019 VisArts Emerging Curator: Kiara Cristina Ventura is a Dominican-American journalist and independent curator from the Bronx who aims to be a support for emerging artists, especially those from underrepresented communities in the art world. Connecting with artists and creating exhibitions with an extensive amount of programs are crucial parts of Ventura’s practice, as she views programming as an impactful way for creating community.
Ventura graduated with a B.A. in Art History and Journalism at NYU in May 2018. In the past, she has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cosmopolitan Magazine for Latinas, Art Forum, Grey Art Gallery, Independent Curators International, and the Brooklyn Museum. In July 2018, she began teaching mobile art history classes, called AW Classroom, about modern and contemporary artists of color to combat Euro-centric art history curriculums. Offering accessible classes every month around NYC, AW Classroom has taught at the Miranda Kuo Gallery, Gavin Brown Enterprise, VICE headquarters, various artist & collectors’ living rooms, Ed.Varie, 8Ball Collective Headquarters, Ghetto Gastro, and the Bronx Art Space. As of August 2019, she began Teen Vogue’s first art column called “Art School,”writing about the stories of young artists of color via long form profile pieces.
Ventura won the BAS Bronx Emerging Curators Open Call which resulted in her exhibition, FOR US. Ventura curated FOR US (March 31 – May 12, 2018), a reﬂection of loud unapologetic portraits by 8 young women of color. Artworks speak to the artists’ history, lineage, and pressures of daily lived experience. FOR US was reviewed in Art Forum’s Summer 2018 magazine issue.
Ventura created ArtsyWindow as an art blog in 2015, and has expanded it as an art platform that curates exhibitions and programs since. Her ultimate goal is to continue creating inclusive spaces for emerging artists whether through articles, content, or physically through carefully curating creative environments.
About the 2019 Mentoring Curator: Larry Ossei-Mensah is a Ghanaian-American curator and cultural critic who uses contemporary art and culture as a vehicle to redefine how we see ourselves and the world around us. He has organized exhibitions and projects with artists at commercial and nonprofit spaces around the globe from, including: Firelei Báez, Ruby Amanze, Hugo McCloud, Brendan Fernandes and Peter Williams. Ossei-Mensah currently serves as the Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). He also is a co-founder of the 501c3 ARTNOIR in addition to being a mentor in the New Museum’s incubator program, NEW INC.
About the 21st Century VisArts Emerging Curator Program: The VisArts Emerging Curator Program pairs an emerging curator with an experienced mentoring curator to produce new exhibitions and related programming.
Generous funding for The Radical Act of Taking Up Space has been provided by