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Creative In ResidenceEditor’s note: This spring, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta artist Shanequa Gay was commissioned by Umi Atlanta to create an installation integrating her work into the restaurant’s social-distancing dining experience. 

Gay, one of Atlanta’s most prominent emerging artists, began doing figurative work and exploring ideas of spirit while studying for her B.A. in painting at SCAD (preceded by an associate degree in graphic design and fashion marketing from the Art Institute of Atlanta and followed by an M.F.A. in art history from Georgia State). Her work has been seen in films and TV series, and exhibited at the Hammonds House Museum, the Atlanta Contemporary, Hudgens Center for the Arts and South Carolina’s Wofford College, In 2013, the Congressional Club chose Gay to illustrate a hostess gift for first lady Michelle Obama.

This piece is part of our new “Creative in Residence” series, edited today and for three more weeks by Floyd Hall, a prominent writer, producer and documentarian. Coming up: features on the AUC Art History and Curatorial Studies Collective, BOSCO and Danielle Deadwyler. Contributors will include Makeda Lewis, Barbara Rego, Sasha-Gay Trusty and Quianah Upton.

Today, photographer Kaya Faery looks at Gay’s work in pictures and in words.

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Shanequa Gay

THIS WAS A VERY SPECIAL MOMENT for me to capture. Shanequa invited me to the opening of the installation. I had never seen anything like it. I told her that night that I wanted to come back to Umi and shoot her with her work, and I was beyond excited with the opportunity to do so. During the shoot, when I reminded her that I said I wanted to capture her at Umi, we both had a moment. That’s when we realized it was meant to be.

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Shanqua Gay

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Shanqua Gay

 SHANEQUA’S WORK is telling a beautiful, and truthful, story about what it is like to be Black in America. She captures the authenticity of what we are experiencing while just trying to merely survive. The installation at Umi is pure genius. She’s getting into places that Black artists wouldn’t normally be seen, and it’s absolutely amazing.

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PEOPLE SHOULD REMEMBER Shanequa’s work as timeless. It evokes feelings that are relevant to the past, present and future.

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Shanequa Gay

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Shanequa Gay

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Shanequa Gay

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