Examining America’s Caste System | Alfred Conteh As Curator

10 August - 7 September 2021 

Kavi Gupta is proud to announce the opening of Know Your Place: An examination of America's Caste System, a group exhibition hosted by Hook Art, curated by critically acclaimed, Atlanta-based artist Alfred Conteh.


Unfolding across three sections, the exhibition spotlights works by seven contemporary Black artists examining the potential for America to transform into a truly unified nation.


Each artist Conteh selected to show with him in this exhibition has a different focus: Michi Meko and Shanequa Gay represent the field of contemporary abstraction; Daàpo Reo, Felandus Thames and Wesley Clarke work with three-dimensional forms; and Shelia Preee Bright joins Conteh making work grounded in realism. Though these artists present different visual and material positions, their work all goes back to the same thing: hope. Not the empty, superficial brand of hope we are asked by marketers and politicians to believe in despite our instincts and lived experiences—but hope being constructively transmogrified into potential, through action.

“If there was no otherness, what would this country be like?” asks Conteh. “It’s hard to imagine because there is that otherness. But an object can make people see things differently. That’s alchemy. That’s the turning of hope into potentiality. The transformation of one thing into another through the power of vision and perspective.”

As the works in this exhibition demonstrate, the potentiality of hope has something to do with identity, and something else to do with identification. It’s about believing in a world in which all citizens have an equal chance to differentiate themselves as individuals, and also be together.

“If white Americans recognize and tear down the system of white supremacy, and the racial caste system that undergirds it, black folks in this country can be made fully American and access citizenship as it was truly designed,” says Conteh, “If whiteness, as this nation's norm, is eliminated this country could become what it touts itself to be, and through this we can all come to terms, heal and move forward as a unified nation of diverse people.”

This online exhibition is on view at Hook Art through September 7, 2021.

Alfred Conteh (b. 1975, USA) is a painter and sculptor who was born in Fort Valley, GA. Conteh earned his MFA from Georgia Southern University in 2004. He currently lives and works in Atlanta. Recent exhibitions of Conteh's work include Alfred Conteh: Our Reality, Virtual Exhibition, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL; Alfred Conteh: The Sweet Spot, Clark Atlanta University Art Museum, Atlanta, GA; Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth., Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service; Visions of a Cultural Commentator, curated by Madeline Beck, Cobb Marietta Museum of Art, Marietta, GA; Alfred Conteh, Selected Works, Harriet Tubman Museum, Macon, GA; and 5 Perspectives, Steffan Thomas Museum of Art, Madison, GA. His works are in multiple public, private and corporate collections, including those of Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, MN; Tubman Museum, Macon, GA; Clark Atlanta University Museum, Atlanta, GA; Minnesota Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN; 21 C Hotel Group, Louisville, KY; and many others.