Kavi Gupta presents an evening of conversation between artists Devan Shimoyama and Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, and writer, educator and curator Rikki Byrd. Centering the topics of transformation, self-reflection, and mysticism, the conversation coincides with the gallery’s ongoing concurrent exhibitions of new works by Shimoyama and Sikelianos-Carter.
Shimoyama’s exhibition A Counterfeit Gift Wrapped in Fire examines cultural representations related to transformation. The result of a long period of self-reflection for Shimoyama, the work materially alludes to an internal dialog with which he has been wrangling, concerning the difference between superficial and true change.
Sikelianos-Carter’s exhibition Stars Are Born In Darkness envisions a parallel universe in which white supremacy has been eradicated and Black features are honored as a manifestation of the mystical. Within this universe, ancient, supernatural guardians call upon Black people to activate the innate divine technology they possess in order to manifest their transmutation into consecrated, immortal beings whose Blackness is critical to their survival and essential to their celestial transcendency.
Rikki Byrd’s research examines topics such as representation of Black identity in fashion, Black Spirituality, and how Black people activate the transformative magic of style by performing mourning through clothing. Byrd’s writing has been published extensively in academic journals, books, and exhibition catalogs, as well as in Teen Vogue, Artsy, and Hyperallergic, among many other media outlets. She has interviewed formidable professionals in art and fashion including André Leon Talley, Bethann Hardison, Mickalene Thomas and Amy Sherald. Rikki has lectured and participated in panel discussions with Google and The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), at Parsons School of Design, Barnes Foundation, and UCLA among several other academic, arts and cultural institutions. She is the co-founder and editor of the Fashion and Race Syllabus and Black Fashion Archive, and was a guest editor for the Spring 2017 International Journal of Fashion Studies, where she edited a special section on Black Fashion Studies. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in African American Studies at Northwestern University.
Doors will open at 5 PM. The talk will begin at 5:30.
Courtesy of the artist
Devan Shimoyama is a visual artist whose work explores depictions of the Black, queer, male body. Through the media of painting, sculpture, printmaking, and installation, he creates compositions inspired by classical painters, such as Francisco Goya and Caravaggio. However, Shimoyama's use of materials is distinctly contemporary, as is the subject matter he depicts. Shimoyama’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States. Recent major exhibitions of Shimoyama's work include Cry, Baby, a solo exhibition at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA; Untitled (For Tamir), a single work exhibition in the Spotlight Gallery at The Rockwell Museum, Corning, NY, USA; Black Gentleman and Midnight Rumination, a major multi-museum exhibition at The Regional, co-organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO, USA; Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY, USA; All The Rage, Kunstpalais, Erlangen, Germany; Realms fo Refuge, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL, USA; Tell Me Your Story, Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort, Netherlands; Getting to Know You, Cleveland Institute of Art, OH, USA; We Named Her Gladys, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL, USA; The Barbershop Project, CulturalDC, Washington, DC, USA; Fictions, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY, USA; and Translating Valence: Redefining Black Male Identity, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Grand Rapids, MI, USA. Shimoyama was awarded the Al Held Fellowship at the Yale School of Art in 2013.
Courtesy of the artist
Alisa Sikelianos-Carter is a mixed-media painter from upstate New York. Her work asserts that Black features are a manifestation of a sacred and divine technology that has served as a means of survival, both physically and metaphysically. She envisions a cosmically bountiful world that celebrates and pays homage to ancestral majesty, power, and aesthetics. Sikelianos-Carter earned her BA and MA in Painting and Drawing from SUNY Albany. She is a recent NXTHVN Fellow, and in 2021 was awarded the inaugural fellowship at Foreland, a six month studio residency in the Catskills conferred biennially on an outstanding artist of color. Recent exhibitions of her work include Realms of Refuge, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL; NXTHVN Fellows Group Show, New York, NY; Beasts Like Me: Feminism and Fantasy, Bronx Art Space, Bronx, NY; and Never Done: 100 Years of Women in Politics and Beyond, Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY. Sikelianos-Carter was featured in New American Paintings, No. 146, Northeast Issue, and received the Sustainable Arts Foundation Grant. She has been awarded residencies at the Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, NY; Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT; Wassaic Project, Wassaic, NY; Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY; and Fountainhead Residency, Miami, FL.
Courtesy of Rikki Byrd. Photo by Shabez Jamal.
Rikki Byrd is a writer, educator and curator, with research interests in Black studies, performance studies, fashion studies and art history. Her research has been published in several academic journals, books, and exhibition catalogs. She has also written for Teen Vogue, Artsy, and Hyperallergic, among several other media outlets. She has interviewed formidable professionals in art and fashion including André Leon Talley, Bethann Hardison, Mickalene Thomas and Amy Sherald. Rikki has lectured and participated in panel discussions with Google and The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), at Parsons School of Design, Barnes Foundation, and UCLA among several other academic, arts and cultural institutions. She is the co-founder and editor of the Fashion and Race Syllabus and Black Fashion Archive, and was a guest editor for the Spring 2017 International Journal of Fashion Studies, where she edited a special section on Black Fashion Studies. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in African American Studies at Northwestern University.