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Davis-Jones Exhibit to Open at Dittmar Gallery Feb. 14 to March 20

February 13, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Philadelphia-based artist Heather Marie Davis-Jones' work addresses how people are defined and self-defined -- by their culture, their country or their skin color.

The 17 works that will be featured in the exhibition "Nobody Never Gets to Heaven and Nobody Gets No Land," which opens Feb. 14 and runs through March 20, at Northwestern University's Dittmar Memorial Gallery, are a result of internal family racism, reactionary revolutions, interracial relationships and miscegenation.

The exhibition, and an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, are free and open to the public. The gallery is located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the Evanston campus. It is among a variety of public events that celebrate Black History Month at Northwestern.

Much of her work deals with people who are impoverished and disenfranchised. The title of the exhibition was inspired by John Steinbeck's 1937 novella, "Of Mice and Men," which tells the tragic story of two displaced migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression.

Davis-Jones utilizes old photographs, symbolism and appropriated images from explorer magazines, tourist books and found or collected objects to evaluate black, Negro, Afro and African identities in relationship to whiteness and the desire to assimilate or to be white.

She created the artwork during her September 2006 residency in British Columbia at the Alternator Gallery of Contemporary Art. Davis-Jones discovered the term "visible minority" in Canada and became interested in the significance of the word "visible" while seeing so few visible minorities.

The Apron Project, a site-specific installation that will be included in the Dittmar exhibition, was started during her Canadian residency, when she was mistaken for a cleaning person in her studio. One work from the series is a three-dimensional mixed media piece that is created from aprons the artist has collected over time. Each apron is fastened to a clothesline with two clip-on clothespins.

An abstract work, "Invisible Minorities No. 5," is a cyanotype (an old monochrome photographic printing process that gives a cyan-blue print) on paper with fabric and acrylic paint. It was inspired by a conversation the artist had with one of her Kenyan friends. He was puzzled by questions from Americans he met about starvation and AIDS in Africa, because both hunger and AIDS also exist in the United States. He was curious why Americans never saw happy Africans, because Africa has poor people and rich people, hungry people and those who are well fed.

Davis-Jones' artwork is very personal and draws largely from her past.

For more information, call (847) 491-2348, e-mail dittmargallery@northwestern.edu or go to the Dittmar Web site at http://www.norris.northwestern.edu/dittmar.php.
Topics: Campus Life