NADA x Artnet Galleries: Detroit Art Week Founders Amani Olu and Aleiya Lindsey Pick Six Artworks They’d Like To Stay Home With

The Detroit Art Week co-founders also share some of their favorite at-home routines.

Detroit Art Week co-founders Amani Olu and Aleiya Lindsey. Courtesy of Detroit Art Week.
Detroit Art Week co-founders Amani Olu and Aleiya Lindsey. Courtesy of Detroit Art Week.

Now through June 20, Artnet Galleries is partnering with the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) to showcase exhibitions from 180 of NADA’s members. You can explore all participating galleries and their online exhibitions here.

Every other week, we’ll be bringing you a specially curated selection of highlights picked by expert(s). For this edition, we look to Detroit Art Week co-founders Amani Olu and Aleiya Lindsey. Detroit Art Week is an annual celebration of contemporary art and culture in Detroit, highlighting exhibitions, studio visits, panel discussions, and more.

Prior to launching Detroit Art Week, Aleiya worked with Red Bull House of Art and helped launch the creative project turned restaurant, Antietam. Before joining forces with Aleiya, Amani created Olu & Company, an arts marketing agency, worked at Nadine Johnson & Associates, and was the managing editor of Whitewall magazine.

We asked Amani and Aleiya to select their favorite “six artworks to stay at home with.” See their selections below and read on to learn more about how Amani and Aleiya are passing time in quarantine.

Six Artworks To Stay Home With:

 

Lilian Martinez, The Big TShirt

The Big TShirt feels deeply rooted in communities of color, utilitarianism, and the vernacular of our grandmothers doing housework in the ’90s. In fact, there has never been a time—in our lifetime, at least—when the oversized tee was not a mainstay. We also love the sentimental nature of the Bugs Bunny tee that has somehow never been lost, a staple in the miscellaneous clothes pile, holding deep memories of place and identity. We find a similar aesthetic in The Big TShirt. Our heroine is hip, not only does she don the classic oversized white tee, she’s also wearing Chanel sneakers because stepping out to stylishly stock up on groceries can provide a fleeting whimsy in these dark times. Also, her subjects’ rich brown skin tones remind us of summer. We feel that—a must-have. 

Darryl DeAngelo Terrell, With Expensive Taste… That’s It, Ain’t Nothing Broke Over Here

Darryl DeAngelo Terrell, With Expensive Taste… That’s It, Ain’t Nothing Broke Over Here (2019). Courtesy of ltd los angeles.

We love that this work is about doing the absolute most. There is nothing more opulent than a fur; it’s the MJ of fashion. In Detroit, fur has been a cornerstone since the city’s infancy, dating back to 1893. The Queen of Soul—and of Detroit—Aretha Franklin was known for initially appearing in a full-length fur, only to shed this top layer to unleash the full range of her vocals. There’s more here: Terrell uses the tradition of still life photography to put forth notions of how Black people respond to institutional racism and the ways apparel can be used to celebrate and promote our own narratives.

 

James Benjamin Franklin, Untitled (SB_002)

James Benjamin Franklin, Untitled(SB_002) (2020). Courtesy of Reyes Finn.

 

Franklin’s sculptural paintings are a masterful display of design, craftsmanship, and color theory. His interest in textures and materials inspired him to make his canvases using epoxy and foam core. The works themselves use fabrics such as clothes, towels, and even carpet from retailers like IKEA and Detroit’s beloved Value World. What we love most about these paintings is their liveliness, opening the door for us to tap into our inner child’s need to play and discover. 

Megan Dominescu, Octopussy

Megan Dominescu, Octopussy (2020). Courtesy of Anca Poterasu Gallery.

 

We could all use a good dose of humor right now. Thankfully, Dominescu’s textiles deliver just that by turning on its head the visual language used to lure people into illicit sex, video chat rooms, and erotic massage parlors in Bucharest. In Octopussy, she looks beyond the gaze to play instead with the seductive nature of kitsch and sexual promises. Thus, making visible the crudeness and pervasiveness of our reality. Using humor as a weapon, Dominescu sheds light on societal contrasts using the bizarre and absurd. 

Lucia Hierro, Can I Borrow a Cup of Sugar

Lucia Hierro, Can I Borrow a Cup of Sugar (2020). Courtesy of Primary.

Ok, so what’s not to love about Hierro’s work? We discovered her practice back in 2018 – ahead of the first edition of Detroit Art Week – while she was a resident artist at Red Bull Arts Detroit. Her work puts everyday items into a cultural context; a bottle of Fanta, supermarket circulars, and in this instance, a box of Domino’s sugar, take on new meaning, explicitly tackling ideas of exclusion and privilege. In effect, we begin to view pop culture and American consumerism through personal experience and economic structures that are, at times, problematic. 

 

Dapper Bruce Lafitte, T.D.B.C. Presents Colored Federal Inmates from New Orleans, Louisiana

Dapper Bruce Lafitte, T.D.B.C. Presents Colored Federal Inmates from New Orleans, Louisiana (2018). Courtesy of FIERMAN.

Lafitte has a reputation for drawing large diagrams of revelers and marching bands from an aerial perspective. This drawing of federal inmates, each portrayed with exaggerated features, some with missing teeth and face tats struck a chord and reminded us that our country has a long way to go in terms of criminal justice reform. It is also a reminder to live in gratitude. And this is something we don’t want to forget. 

Q & A:

 

What music are you listening to now while at home?

Amani Olu: House de France is my go-to for the long walks I find myself taking daily. It is a compilation album from young and promising French house music producers. Be clear, tho; this album is for the dance floor, full of surprisingly complex and melodic musical arrangements that keep you guessing.

Aleiya Lindsey: I love M. Geddes Gengras’s Hawaiki Tapes and had no idea 100 machines playing together could sound so enchanting. Also, lots of Boiler Room; the original club quarantine.

What book(s) would you recommend reading during quarantine?

AO: The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe is one of my favorite books. It helped me digest and contextualize generations of art-making. Low key, it’s the CliffNotes of art history.

AL: Adrienne Maree Brown’s book Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, which provides strategies for intentionally adapting to a world that is continuously in flux.

What experience at home has provided you with the most respite or relief from all of the terrible news?

AO: Mindlessly browsing TikTok and catching up on The Joe Budden podcast.

AL: Trying to make my work from the home environment as calm as possible. 

What has been the most impactful movie/TV show you’ve watched lately?

AO: I love #BlackAF starring Rashida Jones and Kenya Barris. I haven’t watched his other shows like Black-ish, Mixed-ish, or Grown-ish, mainly because I don’t watch network TV, so any comparisons to his other work are unknown to me. That said, #BlackAF does a great job of exploring the stress and anxiety that comes with being black and wealthy. It’s like Curb Your Enthusiasm meets The Office, full of many inside jokes that black people will appreciate.

AL: Atlantics by Mati Diop. I love her, and this romantic, spooky, social-realist story about unpaid laborers. Her visuals of Dakar are also so stunning and real. In a similar vein, the 2018 remake of the horror film Suspiria with Tilda Swinton has also stayed with me. I still think about the film’s intricacies, even though I partially covered my eyes throughout the entire movie.

Is there a charity you would recommend for people to donate to right now?

AO: We the People of Detroit or any project sponsored by Allied Media Projects in Detroit. WPD aims to inform, educate, and empower Detroit residents on critical issues surrounding civil rights, land, water, education, and the democratic process.

AL: Non-profit Detroit Community Technology Project is doing incredible work to bring digital inclusion and internet access to communities that have been overlooked by telecom companies.

What are you most excited about doing once the stay at home order has been lifted? 

AO: Taking my daughter back to Peppa Pig World of Play.

AL: I miss taking long walks through an art fair, attending post-opening dinners, and doing all the worky art world things that used to make me grumble.


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