THERE’S A FAMILY GATHERING of sorts underway at Claire Oliver Gallery in New York. “Adebunmi Gbadebo: A Dilemma of Inheritance” features more than 45 works that consider the legacies of two South Carolina plantations, sites where Black people were once enslaved, production of rice and indigo thrived, and Adebunmi Gbadebo traces her own family lineage.

The exhibition is anchored by a pair of 21-part installations, each work composed of human hair, cotton, rice paper, and indigo dye. Black human hair and the DNA it carries is a key material for the artist. The mixed-media works amount to abstracted portraits, representations of generations who endured enslavement.

Born in New Jersey, Gbadebo is based in Newark. Reclaiming the products that were the fruits of her ancestors’ forced labor, the works are steeped in identity and narratives, layered with notions of survival and trauma, and embedded with individual, familial, and universal histories.

Last year on Juneteenth, journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates testified at a reparations hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. In his opening statement Coates said, “We recognize our lineage as a generational trust, as inheritance, and the real dilemma posed by reparations is just that: a dilemma of inheritance. It is impossible to imagine America without the inheritance of slavery.”

His words moved and inspired Gbadebo and serve as a conceptual framework for her first solo exhibition in New York City. The works on view “grapple with concepts surrounding heredity and the evolution of memory and forgetting.”

She further explained the origins of the works in a statement about the exhibition. “As an artist I’m confronting my relationship with the color blue, Indigo, and materials cotton and rice in the context of their origins as commodities born of violence and enslavement,” said Gbadebo. “I’m interested in the whole system that produced these materials and how its memory has been treated.” CT

 

TOP IMAGE: Adebunmi Gbadebo. | Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

 

“Adebumni Gabadebo: A Dilemma of Inheritance” at Claire Oliver Gallery, New York, N.Y., Sept. 17-Nov. 5, 2020. By appointment only

 

FIND MORE about Adebunmi Gbadebo on her website

 


ADEBUNMI GBADEBO, “True Blue, 18th Hole – 1,” 2020 (Black human hair, cotton, rice paper, Indigo dye, silkscreen printing, 22 x 18 x 1 inches / 56 x 46 x 3 cm). | © Adebunmi Gbadebo, Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

 

One of the plantations Adebunmi Gbadebo references has been transformed into the True Blue Golf Club on Pawley’s Island, S.C. Once a site of enslavement, it is now a “location of privilege and leisure.” The artist incorporated the architectural renderings of the golf club into the works.

 


ADEBUNMI GBADEBO, “True Blue, 18th Hole – 3,” 2020 (Black human hair, cotton, rice paper, Indigo dye, silkscreen printing, 22 x 18 x 1 inches / 56 x 46 x 3 cm). | © Adebunmi Gbadebo, Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

 


ADEBUNMI GBADEBO, “True Blue, 18th Hole – 5,” 2020 (Black human hair, cotton, rice paper, Indigo dye, silkscreen printing, 22 x 18 x 1 inches / 56 x 46 x 3 cm). | © Adebunmi Gbadebo, Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

 


ADEBUNMI GBADEBO, “True Blue, 18th Hole – 9,” 2020 (Black human hair, cotton, rice paper, Indigo dye, silkscreen printing, 22 x 18 x 1 inches / 56 x 46 x 3 cm). | © Adebunmi Gbadebo, Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

 


ADEBUNMI GBADEBO, “True Blue, 18th Hole – 10,” 2020 (Black human hair, cotton, rice paper, Indigo dye, silkscreen printing, 22 x 18 x 1 inches / 56 x 46 x 3 cm). | © Adebunmi Gbadebo, Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

 


ADEBUNMI GBADEBO, “True Blue, 18th Hole – 11,” 2020 (Black human hair, cotton, rice paper, Indigo dye, silkscreen printing, 22 x 18 x 1 inches / 56 x 46 x 3 cm). | © Adebunmi Gbadebo, Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

 


ADEBUNMI GBADEBO, “True Blue, 18th Hole – 13,” 2020 (Black human hair, cotton, rice paper, Indigo dye, silkscreen printing, 22 x 18 x 1 inches / 56 x 46 x 3 cm). | © Adebunmi Gbadebo, Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

 


ADEBUNMI GBADEBO, “True Blue, 18th Hole – 14,” 2020 (Black human hair, cotton, rice paper, Indigo dye, silkscreen printing, 22 x 18 x 1 inches / 56 x 46 x 3 cm). | © Adebunmi Gbadebo, Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

 


ADEBUNMI GBADEBO, “True Blue, 18th Hole – 17,” 2020 (Black human hair, cotton, rice paper, Indigo dye, silkscreen printing, 22 x 18 x 1 inches / 56 x 46 x 3 cm). | © Adebunmi Gbadebo, Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

 


ADEBUNMI GBADEBO, “True Blue, 18th Hole – 19,” 2020 (Black human hair, cotton, rice paper, Indigo dye, silkscreen printing, 22 x 18 x 1 inches / 56 x 46 x 3 cm). | © Adebunmi Gbadebo, Courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

 

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