Tawny Chatmon Remnants/ I Was Born to Stand in the Light
Monica Ikegwu Devin
Megan Lewis Appreciate the Goodness when it Arrives
About the Artist
Tawny Chatmon (b. 1979, Tokyo, Japan) is a photography-based artist residing in Maryland. In 2010, the then commercial photographer's outlook and relationship with her camera shifted when she began photographing her father's battle with cancer, consequently documenting the disease unexpectedly taking his life. With her father's passing, she gradually began to look to her camera less as a device for monetary gain and more as a way for her work to serve a higher vocation.
While the camera remains her primary tool of communication, the self-taught artist takes a multi-layered approach in her process. She does not restrict herself to following any set of rules and does not subscribe exclusively to traditional photography practices. Her photographs are often digitally intensified by exaggerating the hairstyles of her subjects (who are often her children and other family members), lending them the eyes of someone older and wiser, and elongating their form, drawing inspiration from the Byzantine period to signify importance. Thereafter, she typically combines overlapping's of digital collage and illustration. After refining and printing, she frequently experiments with various art practices by hand-embellishing with acrylic paint, 24-karat gold leaf, and materials such as paper, semi-precious stones, glass, and other mixed media. In choosing to frame the achieved iconography in golden antique, repurposed, and contemporary baroque frames, the artist composes a touching counter-narrative that is more than just a photograph, but a new, meaningful compositional expression.
Chatmon suggests that our life experiences and memories are largely responsible for who one ultimately becomes and that "what we are exposed to, what we are taught, and even the toys we play with as children" contributes immensely to shaping us into adulthood. A Black woman and mother of three Black children, she is motivated by "leaving something important behind" to the world her children will grow up in while creating imagery that celebrates and honors the beauty of Black childhood and familial bonds while at times addressing the absence and exclusion of the Black body in Western art.
Chatmon is among the eight African American artists featured in the 2022 Venice Biennale exhibition The Afro-Futurist Manifesto: Blackness Reimagined, curated by Myrtis Bedolla of Galerie Myrtis. The exhibit explores the theme of Black life on the continuum of its imagined future presented in the Personal Structures art fair.
Monica Ikegwu (b.1998, Baltimore, Maryland) is a figurative painter. Ikegwu earned a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA from the New York Academy of Art.
In presenting the notion of the Black figure that is captivating and unconventional, Ikegwu uses color, fluid lines, and textured backgrounds to compose hyperrealist imagery. The concepts for her paintings stem from her surroundings, experiences, and encounters with people in Baltimore. The subjects presented in Ikegwu’s paintings are often her friends, siblings, and other family members from whom she draws her inspiration as she watches them progress through life.
Ikegwu is among the eight African American artists featured in the 2022 Venice Biennale exhibition The Afro-Futurist Manifesto: Blackness Reimagined, curated by Myrtis Bedolla of Galerie Myrtis. The exhibit explores the theme of Black life on the continuum of its imagined future presented in the Personal Structures art fair.
Ikegwu earned first place in the XL Catlin Art prize (2018), was a YoungArts Finalist (2017), a Gold medal winner in the NAACP ACT-SO National competition (2016), and a Scholastic silver medal portfolio winner (2016). Her work was exhibited at the XL Catlin Art Prize traveling exhibition and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in 2018.
Megan Lewis (b. 1989, Baltimore, Maryland) lives and practices in the city of her birth. Lewis graduated with a BFA in Illustration from the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida (2011).
Lewis is an figurative painter and muralist. As a painter, she wields a palette knife with the precision of a surgeon. Her fantastical subjects are rendered in bold colors and geometric patterns and enlivened with beautiful textiles, some sourced locally and others embellished with Ankara fabric acquired during Lewis’ trip to Johannesburg, South Africa.
There is a physicality to Lewis’ subjects, who appear poised to leap from the canvas. Their outward gaze and gestures beckon the viewer to contemplate their thoughts and emotions. But there is a greater question, who are these individuals? That will always remain a mystery because Lewis draws inspiration from chance encounters, a passer-by, and her imagination.
Embedded within Lewis’ beautifully layered canvases are conversations on the social and historical portrayals of the Black body and particularly those inhabited by Black women. Her bright hues are laid down intentionally and purposely, as serious discourse lies within. One that examines “critical views on Black beauty, fashion, body image, and their linked histories.”
As a muralist, Lewis’ has made a profound imprint on the city of Baltimore. She is the first Black woman commissioned to design artwork for Baltimore’s Penn Metro Station. Her murals appear on the walls of Orioles Park “City Corner”, Target’s “Mini Pitch”, Reginald F. Lewis Museum “inside mural “Reflections of Baltimore: Arabbers” and beyond. Recent concept commissions include Doritos-Solid Black, Dicks Sporting Goods, HBO Max, and the US Open BLM exhibit that transformed the front-row seats of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2020 opening. Lewis’ multi-talents also extend to her furniture making.