Right Before we Fly by artist Dare Coulter

Dare has always been a dear friend even though I don’t see her nearly as much as I would like. When she isn’t frantically trying to finish an artwork, and even when she only has a few minutes to talk to you, for that matter, she always seems to be sincere. Whether it be through jokes and laughter or a serious conversation, you can tell she has a genuine interest in the people around her. She always immediately runs for a hug when someone new enters a room. It was interesting to see her fight that very impulse during her artist talk last Saturday at Anchorlight.
At the artist talk Dare filled us in on exactly what each piece of her exhibit, Right Before we Fly, meant to her. It was encouraging to find out that her art was more than just beautiful. Like a true artist her art work is a reflection of her life. The exhibit itself is its own symbol. Dare feels her career, and life, is about to sore, and I couldn’t agree more. Right Before we Fly is her expression of that. The sculptural series is a representation of where Dare has come from, who she is and where she is going.
The subjects of Dare’s artwork are often strong and curvy black women. In this series, she has added butterfly wings to the disembodied heads of The Matriarchs to incorporate the concept of flight. These aren’t just any butterfly wings, however. The Gaudy Commodore is one of the species she chose to bring into her work. This African butterfly comes in two different forms. The winter and summer Gaudy Commodore differ from one another in color, flight pattern and general behavior patterns. Dare chose this species to highlight the effect that environment has on a life. The only difference between these two forms are the conditions in which the butterfly developed, they are genetically the same.

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“Matriarch II”

I found this butterfly to be a beautiful metaphor: no life exists in a vacuum. We are all a product of the conditions we were developed in. Just as important is the environment we choose to immerse ourselves in on a daily basis.
Another detail that I particularly enjoyed was the way in which Dare chose to bring her mother into her art. “Working in the Shadows” is one installation in the Right Before we Fly series about ancestry. In this installation the hands and faces of Dare’s ancestors are serenely coming up from the floor. Dare told us this Saturday that one day while doing a portrait of her mother, she became acutely aware how much her mother’s hands had actually shaped her into the woman she is. Using this awareness, Dare decided to bring her mother’s hands directly into her art by casting them for the ancestral hands of “Working in The Shadows”.

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“Working in the Shadows”

With Right Before we Fly Dare is the inaugural Jo Ann Williams Artist Fellowship recipient. This Fellowship was developed by Mike Williams and The Black on Black project in honor of his mother. The Black on Black project focuses on bringing diversity to the North Carolina arts community by supporting artists of color. They believe in the value stories hold for a community, and wish to insure that voices aren’t silenced due to lack of resources. We are drawn to the Black on Black project here at Steep In because of their focus on community. Mike does a great job of facilitating a conversation at exhibits he curates. He seems to be as interested in what the people bring with them to the gallery as he is in the message the artist is sharing with the world.
The exhibit will only be up until the end of March, so if you want to get a look for your self act swiftly.

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“Matriarch I”
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A talking head from “They Who Guide Us”
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A talking head from “They Who Guide Us”
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A talking head from “They Who Guide Us”
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“They Who Guide Us”
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“Rebirth” (summer)
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“Rebirth” (winter)
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Foreground: “Rebirth” (winter) Background: “Rebirth” (summer)

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