Featuring new work by 2021-22 BRIClab: Contemporary Artist Sophia-Yemisi Adeyemo, Earth & Iron: Archival Visions of Land and Struggle brings together past and present notions of revolution, liberation, and land sovereignty. With painted and collaged images based on early twentieth-century colonial photography taken in West Africa and the Caribbean, Adeyemo reaches into the past to envision alternative futures.
Adeyemo understands the act of painting, cutting, and pasting as an opportunity to restructure Black and Indigenous relationships to land and labor. Responding to increasingly corporatized food systems and to the ongoing exploitation of ancestral lands, her works on paper offer moments of collective resistance and restoration. Adeyemo honors the wisdom of the natural world and the long Indigenous history of communal farming, herbalist practices, and labor through careful illustrations of cacao, ginger root, collards, okra, bananas, aloe vera, kalanchoe pinnata, maize, and moringa. Men, women, and children wield daggers, machetes, and rifles, symbols of resistance and their care for one another. These scenes often extend past the picture plane, inviting viewers to consider what it means to be fierce yet gentle, to reconnect the land and body, and to exist between past and present. Restoring these ancestral practices through archival visions is, in the artist’s words, “an exercise in Black fugitivity, tenderness, and collectivity” and a meditation on what once was and what could be.
List of Works in Exhibition