In 1941, Jacob Lawrence, then just 23 years old, completed a series of 60 small tempera paintings with text captions about the Great Migration, the multi-decade mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North that started around 1915. Within months of its making, the series entered the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and the Phillips Memorial Gallery (today The Phillips Collection), with each institution acquiring half of the panels. Lawrence’s work is now an icon in both collections, a landmark in the history of modern art, and a key example of the way that history painting was radically reimagined in the modern era.
Everything, Everyday presents three emerging artists whose innovative works, while diverse in form and subject matter, reflect overlapping affinities. Sadie Barnette, Lauren Halsey and Eric Mack explore ideas of disappearance and reemergence, shifting visibilities and the beauty of the everyday. Each artist closely considers matters of artistic process by playing with scale, the ephemeral quality of their materials, the nature of time and language, and the relationships between the objects they create.
In his debut exhibit, Gavin tackles a wide range of topics and influences- from the writings of W.E.B Du Bois to West African objects to his complex relationships with his family and his past. Gavin’s sexual orientation and artistic interests were an anathema to his Jehovah’s Witness family and his race set him apart in his rural hometown, making him an outsider even inside his own home. His desire to depict his father and his relationship with him became a way to construct a past that only partially existed, just as the nebulous record keeping and mystery surrounding his origins allowed Gavin to explore the idea of a collective identity as well as an individual one.