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.