Albany, NY (February 8, 2023) --- Opalka Gallery, in collaboration with Black Dimensions in Art, Inc., is pleased to present “Up South: Reflections on the Great Migration by ransome” a solo exhibition of new work, on view March 7 through April 22, 2023. Over a sixty-year period, Black people left behind poverty and Jim Crow in search of new lives in the North, Midwest, and West. The artist reflects on this defining moment in America’s history, interweaving this historic narrative into new paintings with collage, sculpture, and installation.
“My roots grew in the rich Southern soil of my ancestors, but my artistic craft has blossomed under the Northern skies,” writes ransome in his artist statement. In over 200 works, the artist weaves in stories, both from his own personal experience and from historic accounts of what is viewed as the largest mass migration event in US history, spanning the years from 1910 through the 1970s. In this work, ransome uses “motifs, textures, colors, patterns, quilts, and other objects that communicate coexisting ideas of heritage, desire, longing, joy, familial dreams, and legacies of pain.” Combining collage and painting in some works, mixed media and found objects in sculpture and installation, ransome slips easily between abstraction and figuration. The story of the Great Migration is an American story that shaped history and changed the trajectory of the country. “My family history is the history of Black America, which is, itself, the history of all of North America,” writes ransome.
In works related to the overarching theme of the Great Migration, ransome finds inspiration in the improvisation of jazz and hip-hop music and culture, Gee’s Bend quilters, poetry by Langston Hughes, literature such as “Finding Langston” acclaimed YA writer Lesa Cline-Ransome (his wife), as well as Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns.” Opalka is launching its first book club to read this novel, culminating with an online book discussion on April 18, 2023.
This is Opalka’s first curatorial collaboration with Black Dimensions in Art, Inc. “I am indebted to Stephen Tyson and Jacqueline Lake-Sample, from Black dimensions in Art, Inc., who brought this idea to us and who worked closely with us and the artist every step of the way on this important exhibition,” said Amy Griffin, interim director of Opalka Gallery.
ransome received his BFA from Pratt Institute and an MFA from Lesley University. He has had solo exhibitions at, among other venues, the historic Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY (2020), the Elaine Bailey Augustine Gallery at University of North Alabama, and Lockwood Gallery, Kingston, NY, and Alpha Gallery, Boston (2022). He has exhibited nationally in group shows, including the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), Winston-Salem, NC, MassMoCA, North Adams, MA., the Visual Art Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ, and most recently in the Center of Maine Contemporary Art’s 2023 Biennial, Rockland, ME. The artist is a recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant (2022), a Gibbes Museum Visiting Artist Residency (2023), and the Dorsky Museum Hudson Valley Artist Purchase Award (2021). ransome’s work was selected to appear in the 2023, MFA Annual Issue #165 of New American Paintings. He lives and works in the Hudson Valley region of New York and is represented by Alpha Gallery in Boston and Blueprint Gallery in Dallas.
The opening reception for “Up South: Reflections on the Great Migration by ransome” will be on Friday, March 17, 6:00-8:30pm with an artist tour starting at 5:30pm. ransome will give a talk on Thursday, March 30 at 6:30pm. Opalka and Black Dimensions in Art, Inc. are pleased to welcome Pastor Clarence Samuel Johnson to the gallery to tell the story of Rapp Road Community Historic District along with the Macedonia Baptist Church Gospel Choir on March 25. In April, we’ll host a Family Art Day with collage-making, and another of our popular Supper Clubs on Friday, April 21.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a 32-page full-color catalog, with a foreword by Jacqueline Lake-Sample and Stephen Tyson from Black Dimensions in Art, Inc., an essay by independent curator Karen Comer Lowe, and historical contexts from Dr. Winston Grad-Willis of Skidmore College. The catalog will be on sale in the gallery in April.