by Melissa Macker, Executive Director
For the month of May, The 567 Center will feature artwork by Savannah-based artist Brian Antoine Woods in an exhibit titled, “Return of the King.” The exhibit will include paintings, drawings, ceramics and mixed media works by the artist.
Even though a range of artwork will be included in the exhibit, there are common themes in Woods’ work. As an African-American artist, Woods draws heavily on concepts such as slavery and the black experience. Images of cotton and black hands are in many of his works. To the artist, though, these images are only symbols of something deeper.
“The only theme I intentionally address is the complexity of human relations in America,” says Woods. “I tend to address this theme through visual representations of my own fears, life experiences, thoughts, dreams and observations.”
He chose the title of this exhibit, “Return of the King,” to refer to the rise and fall of oppressive institutions throughout history. It is also a nod to the moniker “King Cotton” which was used by pro-slavery authors and politicians in the 19th century. The term identified those in the cotton industry as the new ruling class in the antebellum South.
Like many artists, though, Woods sees his work as open to the viewer’s interpretation. Ranging from scenic landscapes to abstract forms, his artwork is subtle in its presentation. “Orphans of Tulsa” is a collage that shows dark figures in a field of strawberries while old war planes fly overhead. At first glance, it is difficult to tell whether the figures are children playing leap frog or field hands harvesting the fruit. In another piece titled “The Black Vote ‘No’,” black hands appear intertwined in a dance with a branch of cotton. A longer look reveals that the word “no” is spelled out in the outline of the hands.
The artist will talk about his works and what inspired them in a brief artist talk on May 5, 5:30 pm, at The 567 Center. The artist talk will be followed by a reception with the artist until 9 pm. Both events are free and open to the public.