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Vision and Sound: An African American Experience

Airdate: February 16, 2017
The West Valley Arts Council is celebrating Black History Month by showcasing artists working in different mediums ranging from photographer to sculpture. Amber Starr, West Valley Arts Council gallery assistant talks about the exhibition.

Guests:
  • Amber Starr - West Valley Arts Council gallery assistant
Category: Culture

Keywords: Black History Month, photography, art,

View Transcript
JOSE: THE WEST VALLEY ARTS COUNCIL IS CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH BY SHOWCASING ARTISTS, WORKING IN DIFFERENT MEDIUMS RANGING FROM PHOTOGRAPHY TO SCULPTURE. WITH ME TO TALK ABOUT THIS IS AMBER STARR, WEST VALLEY ARTS COUNCIL GALLERY ASSISTANT. WE HAVE A BUNCH OF PICTURES TO RUN THROUGH. THE FIRST IS THE GALLERY. WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE GALLERY?

AMBER STARR: THE ART HQ GALLERY.

JOSE: THESE ARE SOME OF THE PIECES UP IN THE EXHIBITION THAT RUNS FROM NOW UNTIL?

AMBER STARR: FEBRUARY 26.

JOSE: TELL US HOW THE EXHIBITION CAME TO BE, WHY THESE PARTICULAR ARTISTS. WE HAVE SOME UP ON THE SCREEN BUT WE WILL RUN THROUGH MORE IN A MINUTE. BOB MARTIN, I THINK. BUT WE WILL COME BACK TO THAT. TELL US HOW THIS ALL CAME TO BE, WHO PUT IT TOGETHER AND WHY THESE PARTICULAR ARTISTS.

AMBER STARR: MICHAEL AND NORMA CUNNINGHAM ARE HUSBAND AND WIFE COUPLE. HE IS FEATURED IN THE EXHIBIT. THEY APPROACHED THE WEST VALLEY ARTS COUNCIL LAST YEAR TO START AN EXHIBIT THAT CELEBRATES AND FOCUSES ON BLACK HISTORY. LAST YEAR THEY SQUEEZED IN THE EXHIBIT BETWEEN TWO OTHER EXHIBITS SO IT WAS ONLY A WEEK LONG. THIS YEAR IT WAS EXPANDED TO A MONTH LONG IN ADDITION TO NUMEROUS EVENTS IN THE GALLERY AND WEST VALLEY COMMUNITY. WE HAVE ARTIST TALKS, WE HAVE A CONCERT, A PATIO CONCERT THIS COMING SATURDAY IN ADDITION TO AN ARTIST TALK.

JOSE: AND THESE PIECES ALL COME FROM ONE PERSON’S COLLECTION? PRIVATE COLLECTION. IS THAT RIGHT?

AMBER STARR: SOME ARE PRIVATE. MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM IS EXHIBITING WORK. JOHAN HAS HIS PRIVATE COLLECTION FROM A SERIES OF WORK THAT WAS UNCOMPLETED WHEN HE PASSED AWAY AND SHE CREATED THE DESERT MET MORSEL SERIES. THE REMAINDER OF THE ARTISTS ARE EXHIBITING WORK AND SOME IS FOR SALE AND SOME ISN'T.

JOSE: LET'S LOOK AT THE PIECES. BOB MARTIN FIRST. WE HAD ONE OF HIS PICTURES THERE. WE HAVE GOT ONE MORE THAT I WANT TO PUT UP ON THE SCREEN THERE OF HIS WORK. TELL US ABOUT HIM.

AMBER STARR: HE IS A WONDERFUL PORTRAIT ARTIST. I BELIEVE THE MEDIUM HE WORKS IN PRIMARILY IS OIL. SO ALL OF THESE PAINTINGS ARE IN OIL. I FEEL LIKE HE CAPTURES AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN A POETIC AND POIGNANT WAY. THERE IS A WOMAN WADING IN WATER AND WE BELIEVE IT IS DURING HURRICANE KATRINA. THERE IS A PORTRAIT OF TWO SISTERS SITTING TOGETHER AND A MAN WHO IS POSED CASUALLY WITH A TIE UNDONE AND THERE IS A JAZZ SINGER. HIS ART IS PERSONAL AND HE PUTS ON CANVAS RELATIONSHIPS PEOPLE HAVE TO EACH OTHER.

JOSE: AND THEN WE HAVE JOE WILLY SMITH SCULPTURES. WE WILL PUT SOME OF HIS PICTURES ON THE SCREEN.

AMBER STARR: SO WILLY SMITH IS A CULTURE SAVANT. HE TAKES FOUND OBJECTS AND CREATES SCULPTURES THAT ARE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. HE DEMONSTRATES HOW TO PUT A MICROPHONE UP AGAINST THE SCULPTURE AND CREATE MUSIC FROM THEM. THAT IS ANOTHER COMPONENT OF THE VISION AND SOUND EXHIBIT. VISION AND SOUND. WE HAVE GABRIEL VAGUE AND MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM WHO HAS PAINTINGS OF JAZZ MUSICIANS.

JOSE: WE JUST FLASHED ONE OF CUNNINGHAM'S. VERY VIBRANT.

AMBER STARR: BEAUTIFUL WORK.

JOSE: AND ANOTHER ONE. IS THIS NEW ORLEANS? IS IT INTENDED TO REPRESENT THAT PART OF THE COUNTRY? WHAT IS HE DEPICTING HERE?

AMBER STARR: I DON'T KNOW IF IT IS A PART OF THE COUNTRY SO MUCH AS JAZZ.

JOSE: JUST GORGEOUS. THE LAST ARTIST WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT IS STEVEN MARK. WE HAVE GOT THIS PIECE AND ANOTHER ONE OF HIS. TELL US ABOUT HIM.

AMBER STARR: HE IS AN ASU PROFESSOR, PHOTOGRAPHER AND DIGITAL MONTAGE ARTIST. ANY SORT OF HISTORICAL EVENT THAT CAPTURES, I WOULD SAY THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, SOMEHOW OR ANOTHER HE IS ABLE TO BE THERE AND DOCUMENT IT ON CAMERA. SO WE HAVE PHOTOGRAPHS OF HIS THAT FOCUS ON THE CONFEDERATE FLAG BEING REMOVED FROM THE SOUTH CAROLINA STATEHOUSE, WE HAVE PHOTOGRAPHS THAT ARE DIGITAL MONTAGES THAT HAVE A HISTORICAL CONTEXT.

JOSE: SO THE TWO WE SAW, THE FIRST ONE AND I DON'T THINK OUR VIEWERS WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SEE IT BUT THE BACK OF THE ONE MAN'S HEAD WHAT IS THAT REFERRING TO?

AMBER STARR: THAT IS A TERM THAT WAS CREATED IN THE 1800S, I BELIEVE, BY A DOCTOR WHO WANTED TO DOCUMENT THE MINDSET OF RUNAWAY SLAVES. WITH THAT PARTICULAR PICTURE, HE USED MONTAGE TO, I GUESS, SUPER IMPOSE RUNAWAY SLAVE CARTOONS AND DESCRIBE THE CONDITION THAT WAS GIVEN TO THEM.

JOSE: AND THEN THE OTHER PIECE LOOKED LIKE IT WAS TAKING CARDBOARD DEPICTIONS. WHAT IS HE IS DOING THERE?

AMBER STARR: I BELIEVE THOSE ARE TWO AFRICAN-AMERICAN KIDS AND I WANT TO SAY THEY ARE FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN. THEY ARE OUTSIDE THE FENCE AND LOOKING AT EVERYTHING GOING ON INSIDE THE FAIR.

JOSE: THEY ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL PIECES. TELL US WHAT IS COMING UP AT THE GALLERY.

AMBER STARR: WE HAVE A CALL TO ARTIST COME OUR UPCOMING SIXTH ANNUAL FLORAL AND BOTANICAL FESTIVAL. WE HAVE A HOST OF OTHER EVENTS GOING ON. WESTVALLEYARTS.ORG IS THE WEBSITE. THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON. WE DO A LOT.

JOSE: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON "HORIZONTE."

AMBER STARR: THANK YOU.