We are pleased to present We Used to Gather, featuring works by Nina Chanel Abney, Marcus Brutus, Canyon Castator, Ryan Travis Christian, Timothy Curtis, Maja Djordjevic, Conrad Egyir, Shepard Fairey, Amir H. Fallah, Travis Fish, Jammie Holmes, Todd James, David Leggett, Tomokazu Matsuyama, Gisela McDaniel, Rebecca Morgan, Katherina Olschbaur, Pedro Pedro, Anja Salonen, Tylonn J. Sawyer, Willie Wayne Smith, Jess Valice, Paul Verdell, Natalie Wadlington, Tyrrell Winston, and Allison Zuckerman.
As the world remains in various stages of lockdown due to COVID-19, people everywhere are confronting the effects of social isolation, unemployment, and fear for our lives and our health. So many aspects of American life that we have taken for granted as a guarantee have been stripped away, and we are left mourning, unsure what continuance will look like on the other side. We turn to digital applications as substitutes for physical togetherness, and though these platforms fill a need, they are no replacement for safe assembly and intimacy. For now, we settle for separation in the defense of our health and hold onto hope that things will get better soon.
In this unprecedented time where we are actively fighting against both racial injustice and a global pandemic, we are reminded that words and images representing and communicating our outrage, anxiety, sadness and demand for change carry tremendous weight. Sharing symbols of unity from a social distance has been our message in a bottle to one another—that we’re scared but present, and ready to fight from home for as long as it takes.
We Used to Gather presents a multitude of figurative works—all stylistically and conceptually varied—brought together symbolically through the physical presence of their works on the walls at Library Street Collective. What began as an exhibition of contemporary portraiture with a small group of artists before the pandemic has become a gathering of more than 50 pieces, hung salon-style in close proximity. Something like avatars, the figures within the works become stand-ins while we take a necessary but difficult leave from one another—separated but connected—until we can be reunited.
As a way to positively impact our community during the pandemic, Library Street Collective will be donating 10% of the proceeds on any works sold from We Used to Gather to the Metro Detroit COVID-19 ACE Fund. The City of Detroit’s Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship has partnered with literary legend Mitch Albom, Huntington Bank and Metro Solutions to host the Metro Detroit COVID-19 Artist Emergency Crisis Fund (ACE Fund) to provide relief to local arts & culture workers who are experiencing a sudden and severe loss of wages during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The Detroit Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship was established in 2019 to give shape and focus to Detroit’s investments in arts and culture; advocate for opportunities for one of the most inventive and resourceful creative communities in the world; lead efforts to attract additional funding and talent to help build on Detroit’s vibrant arts, cultural and creative sector; and to integrate arts and culture into the city’s strategic plans to transform neighborhoods. It is managed by Rochelle Riley, the city’s Director of Arts and Culture.
We Used to Gather, on display from July 18 through September 18, 2020.
Karaoke Bar, 2020
Oil, UV Print on Canvas
60h x 80w inches
Ryan Travis Christian
Leaving Andy’s (#1), 2020
Graphite on paper. Framed in white.
30h x 44w inches
Willie Wayne Smith
No Turning Back Now, 2019
Oil, acrylic, and airbrushed acrylic on canvas
60h x 76w inches