A man and a woman are walking down a dirt road together. He advances with a determined gait, balancing several objects on his head.
The woman also carries objects. A wrapped bundle sits on her crown. She drags behind while a child straddles her hips.
The scene is from Mozambique and is presented by lens artist Glenn Espinosa.
It’s a common sight from a place he calls home.
“This particular work stems from street photography,” says Espinosa. “It’s the magic of the ordinary.”
His series Patria Amada (Beloved Fatherland) is part of an exhibition entitled Home: Reimagining Interiority, which features the work of 20 YoungArts winners exploring black visual narratives.
It is on view at the YoungArts Gallery (2100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) through Monday, August 1st.
According to Luisa Múnera, Associate Curator at YoungArts, the exhibition was created in collaboration with New York University’s Institute of African American Affairs.
Cultural critic and feminist author Dr. Joan Morgan and Dr. Deborah Willis, an artist, photographer and curator, are directors of the institute and are committed to leading the event.
“‘Home: Reimagining Interiority’ was an idea that both co-curators, Dr. Joan Morgan and Dr. Deborah Willis, at NYU,” explains Múnera, began exploring this notion of home and how the pandemic is changing it, prompting artists and scholars to reflect on what home means to them.”
Múnera says that launching the exhibition together was a perfect fit.
“When I asked them if they were interested in co-curating the show, they immediately said, ‘You know, we’re researching this issue at the university level, but it would be really interesting to encourage the YoungArts artists to be of a different generation and maybe look different at home.’ So it’s wonderful to see lens-based artists and writers coming together and showing their work at home through different mediums,” says Múnera.
Visitors to the exhibition will see the work of Priscilla Aleman, Phylicia Ghee, Cornelius Tulloch, Catherine Camargo, Carlos Hernandez and Jessica Kim, among others.
Eli Dreyfuss’ play entitled A part of me, addresses the issue of homeland through a discussion of patriotism. In it, Stars and Stripes serve as the backdrop for the image of a young man posing on his birthday. His eyes are closed, perhaps deep in thought.
“What I found unique about this portrait was that he was at peace with himself in that moment,” says Dreyfuss. “Despite all the chaos in the world, he’s just standing there in my studio.”
The piece is just one example of Dreyfuss’ ability to capture the souls of his subjects as he draws their essence through his camera lens. “I call myself a creative storyteller with the ultimate goal of connecting with other people,” he says.
Through this connection, the work eventually evolved into something else – something that was equally poignant for him.
“Two months later, during the Black Lives Matter protests, I was very upset,” says Dreyfuss. “It moved me to do something, to make a statement. Obviously with COVID I couldn’t go out and take pictures of people. This photo caught the eye the most because the whole world was in shambles and he’s standing there looking at me through my screen. So I decided to merge it with the American flag,” explains Dreyfuss. “It was at that time in the world that everyone had questions about freedom. And you had to ask yourself: ‘What does freedom mean?’ I wanted to show the beauty of that peaceful moment because there is that juxtaposition with the chaos.”
Following the exhibition in Miami, the work will be transferred to the Department of Photography and Imaging at New York University’s Tisch Gallery. It will be on display there until the fall semester.
This is the first time a YoungArts exhibition has traveled to New York. Múnera hopes it will open the door to future opportunities.
“We think broadly and would love to work with educational institutions or other galleries in New York, Miami or Los Angeles to take on exhibitions that we have produced here. That’s something we hope to expand within our exhibition program, however [we] I’m pretty happy that Home: Reimagining Interiority will be the one to make that first round.”
Testimonies of how young artists view their individual living concepts are what make the exhibition so compelling, says Múnera.
“There’s a lot of power in her storytelling,” she says. “I think these young artists have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on and how people talk about certain things. As such, I think this exhibition really highlights the difficulties that everyone has experienced during the pandemic. In that sense I think it reaches a lot of viewers and their individual stories are very beautiful too.”
“Home: reinventing inwardness.” On view by appointment through Monday, August 1 at YoungArts Gallery, 2100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; youngarts.org. Admission is free.