Note: On the heels of MINT’s recent reopening, it was forced to close by the coronavirus pandemic. We’re publishing this review as a matter of record, because the exhibits might return and out of respect for the artists involved.
What happens when you want to show off three exhibitions at the same time? You take a leap like MINT did on February 29, days before COVID-19 sent everyone into a social-distancing mindset. Gallery manager Makeda Jean Lewis, an artist herself, made her curatorial debut with something’ missing . . . somethin’ promised in the main gallery. Straightaway, a group show by MINT’s 2019–20 Leap Year Artists, and Rule Follower, a solo show by Sarah Nathaniel, filled galleries two and three.
Those exhibits are still up but, of course, cannot be seen. For now, MINT has extended the run date through April 4, hoping the coronavirus situation eases and it can welcome visitors. At this writing, it had no plans to make the shows available virtually.
MINT moved last year from its digs downtown to MET Atlanta in the southwest neighborhood of Adair Park. Now with more than 7,000 square feet of space, MINT’s bright industrial home includes 18 artist studios and a retail exhibit space. Interns share a space in which to show works-in-progress.
Process and materials seemed top of mind for somethin’ missing . . . somethin’ promised, with works by Arianna Khmelniuk/Zapah Lab, MaDora Frey, Zipporah Camille Thompson, Hanna Newman and Charity Harris — names many of you should recognize. Ten mixed-media works and installations resonated with affirmations of feminist connectedness, especially in light of March being Women’s History Month. The show title is an abstract homage to a line in Ntozake Shange’s a laying on of hands in the choreopoem For Colored Girls.
Curator Lewis focused on artists whose work expresses manipulation or a weaving together. “I’ve been thinking a lot about transference of support and healing energy,” she said, “how the health of community is not only affected by the people around us but how we support the people around us.”
Each artwork, it seemed, passed an invisible I’ve-got-your-back baton to another.
MaDora Frey’s Big River Zen and Astral Basin used neon tube lighting, mirrors and other materials, including wood. Arianna Khmelniuk’s work also used wood. Charity Harris’ “Desire” and “Silence” — braided ovals, one red (standing, balanced) and one white (on its side) — flowed easily into much of Zipporah Camille Thompson’s natural weaving of textures and found objects, as seen in indigo pastoral and queen cobra. What was missing and what was promised was left to you. Art that tells tales of the who and the what has been objectified may be at the soul of somethin’ missing . . . somethin’ promised.
Olfactory artist Arianna Khmelniuk/Zapah Lab offered an experiential installation titled captio. Not wanting to spoil the full backstory, Lewis shared that Khmelniuk referenced a “captured structure, almost temple-like.” Vestal virgins long ago labored for years, tending sacred fires. If their vows were broken, punishments were meted out, even death. Here, you’d experience many sacrificed lives, physically and spiritually. Tiny labels that read “smell me” led you to a hint of incense or charred wood.
The gallery’s concrete floor space became the backdrop to Hanna Newman’s figurative surrealist sculptures. These fragmented female torsos were mindfully placed and would ideally be seen from various angles — the placement of a head, for instance, or a vibrant yellow and pink – might have shaken you but simultaneously embodied these bodies. Consider Newman’s title: Apparently at some point last night I turned the shower on and left it running. I woke up to the floor all wet and the water running cold.
There was no want for mediums, tones or textures in Straightaway, from the Leap Year artists. The exhibit spotlighted paintings, sculptures, video and projected performance installations from Amanda Grae Platner, Caleb Jamel Brown, Danielle Deadwyler, Ellie Dent and Michelle Laxalt.
Monochromatic lines formed the basis of Sarah Nathaniel’s first solo show, Rule Follower. Repetitive painted lines as a type of meditation were seen in Two Rules No. 3 (Repeat line left to right, dip brush only once with each new row) and Two Rules No. 4 (Repeat line left to right, dip brush intuitively). Nathaniel methodically compartmentalized and incorporated painting and sculpture along with string and rope installations to explore the definition of line. She then explored and challenged that definition with materials that look like lines.
A fourth exhibition space — ConsignMINT (get it?) — is new. It has a pop-up gallery feel with art covering general and hallway space outside the other galleries. It contained a mix of established and emerging artists — a larger-scale work from Tracy Murrell and Jurell Cayetano, for instance, and a hallway display of smaller works with such creative titles Mom As a Pudgy Fish Accessory (Crystal Desai) and Subtle Subversion of the System (Alexandra Hemrick). “It keeps us fresh and it’s a more flexible retail venue to present snippets of new artists.” says MINT executive director Jessica Helfrecht.
There may be a catalog in the exhibition’s future and, if you’re sentimental, MINT’s signature orange sign still shines inside. When MINT reopens post-coronavirus, know that there will be art. Lots of it, in a good way.
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