Art Galleries

We're All in This Together

When: Jan. 5-Feb. 3 2008

The warm, fuzzy, generic title of this exhibition seems at odds with the conceptual nature of the drawings, prints, and photos by N. Dash, Hank Willis Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems; the images' historical and sociological subtexts might register with the knowing art maven but elude the casual viewer. Dash's graphite renderings -- butterflies and spiders amid auras and clouds of bubbles, snakes coiled around astronomical vistas -- suggest a scientific illustrator's pantheism, while her American flag lithograph, stars and stripes replaced by arrays of shaggy, raveled fabric buffalo, depicts the price paid by wildlife for Manifest Destiny. Willis Thomas' Unbranded digital prints of old magazine ads, text and brand names now excised, show us how black consumer stereotypes are created, yet also how seductive they remain, even decades later. Weems enriches her digitally printed photos of buildings that are already infused with black history with sardonic commentary; she adds narrative interpretation where Willis Thomas removes it, yet both seek to reclaim a portion of black experience.Through February 3 at Swarm Studios (560 Second St., Oakland) or 510-839-2787.

DeWitt Cheng

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