The Black Optics Artist Residency Program is for emerging and established artists of the African Diaspora. The artist-in-residence is expected to create a new work that is connected to either the museum’s permanent collection or a temporary exhibition. The visiting artist will also develop programming that involves sharing their work and area of expertise (e.g. printmaking, sculpting, playwriting, fashion design) with faculty and students at Clark Atlanta University and broader Atlanta communities.
The artist residency program supports Clark Atlanta University Art Museum’s goal of being a center for the presentation and critical study of African Diaspora art and museum praxis. The visiting artist is given time and space for creative growth and experimentation. Their project should generate new perspectives about the museum’s permanent collection, exhibition, and/or contemporary museum practices.
The Workshop is a multi-year Clark Atlanta University Art Museum initiative that seeks to close the distance between artist and audience by highlighting the steps fundamental to the creative process.
Wilay Méndez Páez (Cuba, 1982) is an Afro-Cuban artist whose work explores everyday present life and human connections. He mainly works in sculpture and collage and all of his pieces are made from recycled materials. For example, he recuperates the metal from old cars and he scrapes out pieces of deteriorated walls in Havana as well as in other parts of the island and of the world.
Born and raised in Cuba, Wilay’s work has been included in several shows in Havana city, such as at the Havana Biennale (2015), at Moderna Gallery with a solo show (2016), at Centro Provincial de Artes Plásticas y Diseño (Galería Luz y Oficio) in three group shows (in 2012, 2018, and 2019), as well as in other cities of the island, such as in Santiago de Cuba at the African Cultural Center Fernando Ortiz (2018). Wilay’s work has been also brought abroad in several exhibits, such as in Munich Germany (Atelierhaus Dachauer Straße, 2016), in the United States (Seattle, ArtXchange Gallery, 2017), and in England (Studio ExPurgamento, London, 2019). In Atlanta, he had a solo show at GerART Gallery in September 2019, a solo show at the AUC Woodruff Library in October 2019, a group show at the Murphy Rail Studios in November 2019, a forthcoming solo show at the Day and Night Project in August 2020, and a forthcoming group show of Latino artists in Georgia at the MOCA.GA (Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia).
Artist-in-Residence: Guy Gabon
Guy Gabon is an eco-artist, designer, and filmmaker whose work explores the interrelationship between the natural and urban environment. Her documentary film and mixed media experiments draw attention to the imbalances created by consumer society. Her public commissions, including the project From Waste to (Re)Design, involve transforming urban waste into aesthetic forms. In 2013, she founded La Ressourcerie des Arts to increase awareness about environmental and sociopolitical issues. She has participated in artist residencies in Canada, France, the United States, and various African countries including Madagascar, Mozambique, and South Africa.
As an artist and eco-activist, Gabon focuses on the imbalances caused by globalization and the political, social, and ecological issues faced by nations. She uses the experimental and innovative languages of contemporary art to express the radical climate change at work in the world in a way that engages audiences at an emotional level. She feels that she has the responsibility to witness, capture, and describe those changes and to create images that express the complexities of the situation. She specifically implements multidisciplinary and protean artistic and environmental experiments in public spaces.
As the CAUAM Artist-in-residence, she will participate in a series of events that will connect her to the city of Atlanta as well as the museum’s primary audiences. In collaboration with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the USA, Gabon will be on a panel during European Climate Diplomacy Week. At Alliance Françaisle, her film Mauvais Genre (Bad Gender), which addresses the relationship between first names and gendered identities. During France-Atlanta, she will host a workshop about works-in-progress that relate to Clark Atlanta University’s historic collection of African American fine art, the city of Atlanta, and women in the American and Global South