Reflect Project logo

reflect / project is an exhibition series featuring socially engaged video work by a selection of artists who identify as Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and persons of color. Additionally, reflect / project incorporates social practice artists associated with the Interchange Program, creating a digital outlet for modes of inquiry that have been affected by the distancing restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Projected in M-AAA’s storefront gallery, this series will amplify underrepresented perspectives into the public sphere. New content will premiere on the first Friday of each month, beginning in August and continuing through June of 2021 with a two-month break in February and March. Artworks displayed in the gallery will be complemented through an online series that includes additional works selected by the artists. 

Coming soon: Câmi Thomas

reflect / project is pleased to present the November exhibition from St. Louis artist Câmi Thomas. Thomas’s work Tuko Sasa will be projected in M-AAA’s storefront gallery starting November 6 from 7:00–9:00 p.m. and occurring every day through December 3. The work will also be available for viewing online, with supplementary work from artists Bino and Maleeha Samer, selected by Thomas. 

Tuko Sasa, which translates to “We are Now” from Swahili, is a short experimental film by St. Louis–based artist Câmi Thomas. Though much of Thomas’s earlier work took the form of documentaries and digital collages, Tuko Sasa signals a shift towards open-ended, non-linear filmmaking. Alternately whimsical, enigmatic, and pregnant with meaning, Tuko Sasa is the artist’s expression of the Black experience across the diaspora.

Tuko Sasa will be streaming and also projected on a loop at M-AAA from 7:00–9:00 p.m. starting on November 6, continuing every day until December 3. Visitors can engage the work with socially distanced viewing at any time during these hours, enjoying the films from the sidewalk, street, or parking lot in front of Mid-America Arts Alliance at 2018 Baltimore Ave in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District.

October with Kristen Lyle

Artist Kristen Lyle of St. Louis, MO presents Playground Stories and Outside the Sandbox. This project began as a desire to create an environment through video. For many trans, non-binary, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people, thoughts about gender are a constant part of their day-to-day life. The environment the artist wished to create with these videos was one where this often internal or private dialogue about gender identity, gender presentation, and gender perception was externalized and inescapable to the viewer. 

From Lyle: “Gendered thinking and unconscious bias affects everyone, but particularly trans and gender non-conforming people, for whom thoughts about gender are a daily constant. My videos externalize thoughts about gender identity, presentation, and perception as discussed by trans, cis, queer, and straight folks. I encourage viewers to consider how unquestioned, internalized ideas about gender affect our perceptions of ourselves and each other.”

Lyle will be featuring work from artists Tobi C. and Alex Bergman. 

Kristen Lyle: Playground Stories

Kristen Lyle
Playground Stories
2018
digital video with audio
Time: 5:49
Courtesy of the artist

Kristen Lyle: Outside the Sandbox

Kristen Lyle
Outside the Sandbox
2018
digital video with audio
Time: 9:14
Courtesy of the artist

Tobi C.: Dissonance

Tobi C. is a white genderqueer artist living in Columbia, MO. They are self taught, and received a BA in Structural Violence and Gender Studies from Metropolitan State University Denver. Most recently, Tobi C. completed a term at Columbia’s Resident Arts, was exhibited at Sager Braudis Gallery and the St. Louis Artists Guild.

Dissonance: Queerness, Chronic Pain and Invisible Illness is an immersive multimedia experience produced in collaboration with sound artist Luke Cormier, which challenges assumptions and constructions of gender, ability, suffering and sexuality. Portraits rendered in finger blended oil pastel, ink and acrylic are accompanied by audio collages which translate the unseen internality of the subject to the viewer.

From Tobi C.: Dissonance emerged out of my experience living as a queer person with invisible illness and chronic pain. I often feel I have to hide my pain and my gender so as not to make myself vulnerable to others perceptions of what pain, illness, or queerness looks or acts like. I have created this artistic environment to challenge the able gaze while celebrating and centering queer bodies in their complexity and beauty.

I have the ability and the privilege to perform wellness, passing as fully able bodied while internally suffering from silent sometimes severe pain that no one else is aware of. This “backdrop” of pain plays loudly inside my head and throughout my body as a type of harsh ambiance that only I can hear.

The audio components, created by myself and sound collaborator Luke Cormier, are symbolic representations of these “backdrops” of pain. They make the invisible audible with the intention of altering the perception of the viewer. Each composition was produced using both metaphors for painful sensations, such as a rope being pulled to snapping, voice, as well as medical devices used to treat or diagnose. Each recording is unique to the portrait they accompany and based on descriptions given by the subject.

install view with headphones
painting of woman in red dress

Above: Tobi C., installation view of degenerative, 2019; oil pastel, ink, acrylic and colored pencil on panel, headphones and player; Courtesy of the artist. Left: Tobi C., degenerative, 2019; oil pastel, ink, acrylic and colored pencil on panel, 38 x 32 inches; Courtesy of the artist.

woman with pink hair and hand on heart

Above: Tobi C., installation view of idiopathic, 2019; oil pastel, ink, acrylic and colored pencil on panel, headphones and player; Courtesy of the artist. Left: Tobi C., idiopathic, 2019; oil pastel, ink, acrylic and colored pencil on panel, 38 x 24 inches; Courtesy of the artist

install view with headphones
person's face touching lips

Above: Tobi C., installation view of indeterminate, 2019; oil pastel, ink, acrylic and colored pencil on panel, headphones and player; Courtesy of the artist. Left: Tobi C., indeterminate, 2019; oil pastel, ink, acrylic and colored pencil on panel, 32 x 24 inches; Courtesy of the artist

Alex Bergman

Alex Bergman received their BA in studio art from Columbia College in 2019 with a minor in art education. Bergman works primarily and three-dimensional media including fibers, alternative photography, and functional ceramics. Bergman’s art has been exhibited in solo and group shows across the Midwest, including a solo show at the Sidney Larson Gallery (Columbia, MO) in 2019.

Alex Bergman seeks to challenge the public’s tendency to sort objects with symbolic value—represented in Bergman’s work by traditionally gendered clothing—into male and female categories. Sometimes altered in order to subvert their use, and sometimes altered in order to highlight their use, Bergman’s garments examine gender in American culture as it pertains to identity, presentation, sex, labor, and community.

Images below, all by Alex Bergman:

(1–3)
Expected Arousal

2018
lingerie, condom, nipple clamps, machine and hand stitching
30 x 18 x 3 inches
Courtesy of the artist

(4–6)
Reversible

2018
additive pocket, machine and hand stitching
40 x 20 x 4 inches
Courtesy of the artist

(7–9)
Hostile Work Environment

2018
hand embroidery on denim
45 x 20 x 3 inches
Courtesy of the artist

(10–12)
Strong Work Ethic

2018
free motion stitching
45 x 30 x 3 inches
Courtesy of the artist

(13–15)
Fabric of the Nation
2019
machine stitch applique on polyester
50 x 30 x 3 inches
Courtesy of the artist

Kristen Lyle’s background in the social sciences and community organizing informs her interest in art and graphic design as a communication tool. She uses both digital and handmade techniques, including video, graphic design, historical photographic processes, printmaking, and letterpress. Inspired by artists such as Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, and Glenn Ligon, Kristen’s work aims to draw attention to voices that fall outside the “norm” in order to critically examine the visual media that we create and consume, particularly the ways in which art and design can perpetuate unexamined ideologies. Her work encourages explicit conversation about these ideas, in order to foster deeper intentionality as we engage creatively with the world around us.

Visit Kristen’s website or find her on Instagram at instagram.com/interstitial

To visit an archive of August’s works by Campbell, Lydia Cheshewalla, and Christina Beatty, click here

Crystal Z Campbell is a multidisciplinary artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer of African American, Filipino, and Chinese descents whose work engages with the intersection of witnessing and public secrets. Campbell finds complexity in the public secret, or a fragment of information which is known by many, but perhaps undertold, unspoken, or underacknowledged.

Recent works revisit questions of immortality and medical ethics with Henrietta Lacks’ immortal cell line, ponder the role of a political monument and displacement in a shifting Swedish coastal landscape, and salvage a 35mm film from a demolished Black Civil Rights theater in Brooklyn as a relic of gentrification. Campbell engages with sonic, material, and archival traces of the witness through film/video, live performance, installation, sound, painting, and writing.

In a forthcoming fellowship appointment at the Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center, Campbell will continue work on SLICK, an experimental feature film centering the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and its longstanding effects on the city of Tulsa. The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre marks one of the most hushed incidents of racially motivated domestic terrorism in the United States, with over 300 people killed and 35 blocks of businesses and homes in the predominately Black community of Greenwood destroyed.

Campbell exhibits and screens internationally: The Drawing Center (US), Nest (Netherlands), ICA-Philadelphia (US), Artissima (IT), Studio Museum of Harlem (US), Project Row Houses (US), Visual Studies Workshop (US), and SculptureCenter (US), amongst others. Select honors and awards include: Pollock-Krasner Award, MAP Fund, MacDowell, M-AAA, Skowhegan, Rijksakademie, Whitney ISP, VCCA Alonzo Davis Fellowship, and Flaherty Film Seminar Fellowship.

Campbell is a concurrent Tulsa Artist Fellow and Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center & David and Roberta Logie Fellow (2020-2021) who lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

To access McKinney’s work and other information about this exhibition, visit this page.

Adam W. McKinney is a former member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Béjart Ballet Lausanne, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and Milwaukee Ballet Company. He has led dance work across the US and in Benin, Canada, England, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Palestine, Poland, Rwanda, Serbia, Spain, and South Africa. Named one of the most influential African Americans in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by St. Vincent DePaul, McKinney is the Co-Director of DNAWORKS LLC, an arts and service organization committed to healing through the arts and dialogue. He holds a BFA with high honors in Dance Performance from Butler University and an MA in Dance Studies with concentrations in Race and Trauma theories from NYU-Gallatin. McKinney is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He was recently selected to participate in Mid-America Arts Alliance’s Interchange program, designed to strengthen communities and individual artists within our region by supporting artist-led projects focused on social impact.

McKinney is featuring artists Zeus Hope and Najeeb Sabour. 

Upcoming

reflect / project is pleased to announce the projects for the months of November, December, and January:

Cami Thomas (St. Louis, MO), Tuko Sasa. Tuko Sasa (We Are Now) is a series in which the conjunction of the African diaspora, the art of portraiture, and the digital age are showcased through an assemblage of digital collages and video loops. Each image presents to the viewer the essence of an individual in their rawest form, each adorned in a collection of digital elements that reflect the characteristics of the generational context that they hold within their DNA. Akin to the concept of “Afro-futurism,” the Tuko Sasa series dares to envision a world in which children of the diaspora are not pining for an eventual destiny of the future, but instead accept that Black and queer people are currently, and have always been, woven into the fabric of the world’s greatest potential. It includes poetry by St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Chicago-based queer Black women which guides and narrates the content from start to finish of the eight minute short film. Opens November 6, 2020.

Virginia Grise (Cedar Park, TX), Soñar es luchar. Soñar es luchar is a short experimental/theatrical video. Set in a cotton field in South Texas, it is a conversation between The Woman Who Dreams and The Girl Who Sleeps All Day. Written and performed as a lucid dream about a broken heart, wild fires, urban rebellions, and the longing to fly. Opens December 4, 2020. 

Sav Rodgers (Olathe, KS), No Reason for Celebration. No Reason For Celebration is an archival documentary project that juxtaposes the early gay liberation movement with modern LGBTQ+ rights activism. Relying solely on the archival footage sourced by the filmmakers, this project highlights how trans people are often shunned from their own movements for the sake of “progress.” The sharp juxtaposition of these images promises an impact that leaves viewers questioning, “What exactly have we been celebrating?” January 1, 2020.

reflect / project is an extension of Mid-America Arts Alliance’s Interchange program in collaboration with its Arts and Humanities Programming Division. It is supported in part by the City of Kansas City, Missouri Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund.

Interchange logo  logo for KCMO Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund

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