wild chrysalis bloom at whitespace, Atlanta

By October 07, 2021
Zipporah Camille Thompson, detail of kith and kin, 2021; handwoven tapestry, digital photography printed on fabric, bleached denim, photographs, mixed fabrics, 76 by 80 by 3 inches. Courtesy the artist and whitespace. Photography by Kadarina Adams.

there are horizons. there are different dawns.
not here/ but out there somewhere/ or maybe

in my hands/ these Black hands

Ntozake Shange, boogie woogie landscapes

Looming Chaos, Zipporah Camille Thompson’s 2020 exhibition at the Zuckerman Museum of Art, toyed with the existential conditions of hanging, weaving, and compiling. Thompson treated the textile object as a prism through which chaos passes and refracts into separate realms of (im)materiality. For the recently opened wild chrysalis bloom at whitespace, the Atlanta-based artist carries the crux to new dimensions with an offering that alchemizes tension and chaos into cosmic, energetic forces, yielding what Thompson calls “collective soul transformation.” Intricate weavings, illustrations, and stoneware come together in a bold assertion: materiality enables the conceptual thing to come alive.

Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez’s Casta Paintings on view at Halsey Institute in Charleston through July16

wild chrysalis bloom spans two rooms, and a related installation titled victory garden lives in shedspace, an intimate exhibition located outside of the gallery. The first room opens with works encompassing three walls, painted pink, black, and blue. In kith and kin, asymmetrical textiles weave rainbow holographs with pastel mesh, screen-printed fabric, and neon fringe. Connecting two distinct panels with a knotted rope, Thompson depicts kinship bonds by printing digital photography onto the material, fathoming her own social fabric. Other works, like day of the moon appear like wild, technicolor maps. Plaid fabrics are thin and thick axes onto which small ceramics and intricately cut cloths are carefully placed. Growing gradually, the textile overlaps infinite moments of time, budding into a record of transformations, a multitude of emerging blooms. It maps change, embodying the sense of revolution shared in the exhibition text.

The palm, or hamsa, is a symbol of protection that originated in the Maghreb and Fertile Crescent. An amulet, the palm holds space throughout the gallery, shown holding a golden crescent moon or five-pointed star. Long black fingers tipped with baby pink polish or petal-like leaves speak back to ancient religious symbolism while also serving as an homage to the bold acrylics and decadent jewelry that are characteristics of Black aesthetic culture. Made of hand-tufted fabric, the fuzzy entities are caressed by cosmos chalked in pastel colors on the gallery walls. They carry and swallow light, a talisman of Black being and Black creation. There is a softness here.

Installation view of wild chrysalis bloom. Courtesy the artist and whitespace. Photography by Mike Jensen.

palmflower eclipse is a collection of small stoneware sculptures – sable hands with rose-colored embellishments. Star-studded knuckles, glazed fingernails lit by moons. In one dark palm, an anatomical rendering of a heart; in another, peaky mountains; and others still, adorned with brown butterfly wings, twin serpents, teeth, sculpted flowers that rise in ebony blooms. The collection is a constellation of Black figuration, each gesture distinct from the rest. There is an Afrofuturistic quality to the palmflowers, though the sacred icons also feel ancestral. Perhaps these hands best reflect the recent solar eclipse and mercury retrograde in Gemini, cosmic events that align with the exhibition’s intentions. As we reckon with the chaos of past and present, may there be a break and a bloom, an upheaval and a laying of Black hands. 

wild chrysalis bloom by Zipporah Camille Thompson is on view at whitespace in Atlanta, Georgia through October 23.

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