Chicago-based artist Andrea Coleman and Oakland-based artist Warith Taha are paired together in a duo exhibition A Composition of Memory at FLXST Contemporary curated by Ciera Alyse McKissick.
Coleman’s digital collages source photographs and memorabilia from family photo albums, archival imagery, and oral histories. Mark making on the portraits is Coleman’s way of constructing memories that are oftentimes recollected from different family members to create larger visual narratives through digital manipulation. Through this, she is able to add her own interpretations to her family’s truths and untold stories by using a form of digital erasure, which she calls “whiting out,” to allude to the holes our memories create when the entire story is not present or known. Her use of vibrant colors and gestures in her pieces are used to represent and connect to the family member depicted in her pieces— a process which is not preconceived or planned but intuitive.
Taha’s collages and illustrations are also rooted in the manipulation of the figure and archival imagery, using found images from 90’s gay adult magazines, family photos, and self-portraiture. Through the use of paint, Taha explores the process of covering and uncovering this imagery by only exposing certain elements and appendages from the body or face, much of them being gay black male bodies and other queer bodies. This visual practice and process references the historical omission of these marginalized bodies and voices from the art historical canon to bring more visibility and intimacy on how these bodies are treated, viewed, and preserved.
Both artists work intersect through themes relating to the distortion of memory and the construction of perception. Coleman’s use of fragmentation alludes to the process of remembering, while Taha’s act of covering points to a path of reconciliation for forgetting.