For this group exhibition curator Tyler Emerson-Dorsch invited artists to consider Edwidge Danticat’s story “Sunrise, Sunset.” With its metaphors for the delicacy of memories and conveying knowledge across difference, the story provides a map for thinking through what is at stake in what we as a gallery, curator and artists do, where we are and who we are.

Jenny Brillhart, Robert Chambers, Clifton Childree, Elisabeth Condon, Cara Despain, Lynne Golob Gelfman, Brookhart Jonquil, Karen Rifas, Donna Ruff, Jamilah Sabur, Onajide Shabaka, Magnus Sigurdarson, Robert Thiele, Frances Trombly, Paula Wilson


The video, paintings, sculptures and installations featured in Sunrise, Sunset are part of a conversation that started just after Hurricane Irma spared Miami. Edwidge Danticat’s story Sunrise, Sunset, published in The New Yorker the same week of the storm, grows outward from its rich particulars, becoming a parable about the entropic nature of knowledge and the urgency to connect before it is too late.

The story’s first impact is that it takes place in Little Haiti, where the gallery is located. Tyler Emerson-Dorsch writes: “Even more than its details about place, this story’s specificity comes from the emotional landscape of a Haitian-American family. I am new to this neighborhood. Everybody is still cautious, a little curious and polite. The story opens a window I wanted to find.”

The story begins with a grandmother named Carole, whose memories are fading even as she worries about her daughter Jeanne’s persistent depression. Jeanne has just had a son, and she needs to snap out of her blues. Neither knows how to talk to the other anymore, and it is only getting harder. The way Danticat structures the story shows how art can reveal to an Other (whether a reader or a daughter) what direct communication cannot. The sentiments contained within the story reveal why the impetus behind the art is important. It comes down to mortality. All of us only have a little time to make understood what is most important to pass on. Now is our chance.

The story cues some intuitive responses, the first of which is the imperative to reflect the contributions of several generations. Another visualizes aspects of Carole’s experience. In Elisabeth Condon (b Los Angeles, CA 1959) and Donna Ruff’s (b Miami, FL 1945) works lattice motifs evoke fragmentation and porous barriers. Magnus Sigurdarson’s (b Rejkjavik 1966) large drawing is literally the compilation of small vector rectangles, built-up to represent the most important landmarks in his life. Onajide Shabaka (b Cincinnati, OH 1948) excavates memories in works on paper, in which he layers abstract renditions of specimens from his travels in the Carribbean, South America, Northern Florida and Africa. In a video installation by Jamilah Sabur (b St Andrew, Jamaica 1987), a masked woman stands in a diamond shape in the middle a forest. She seems archetypal and timeless somehow, an impression countered by the video, on another screen, of a dead spider fluttering from last strand in its web. In a sound piece, Cara Despain (b Salt Lake City, UT 1983) leverages a generational memory to affect nostalgia and disorientation. Paula Wilson (b Chicago, IL 1975) also harnesses the power of the archetype in two figures, one of a woman and another a girl about to come of age. Collaboration between generations is another theme.

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