The Fridge Presents Joelvincii in Retrospect

By Editorial Team on October 1, 2018

Fri, 05 October 2018 - Sun, 28 October 2018

Image Copyright Joel Ulmer.
Opening Reception: Friday, October 5 from 7pm to 11pm

The Fridge will debut a new series of works from Washington, DC native Joelvincii. Joelvincii’s oil paintings explore identity and class through his lens – that of an African American man who was raised in SE DC. The artist’s unique understanding of interpersonal tension rooted in race and class took root after he started attending high school in an affluent neighborhood in the NW.

“I started to see a whole new culture. I would take the train from the NW going back to the SE, and I knew what I was leaving. Seeing the contrast between the two communities – the difference was really huge,” says the artist.

Twenty-one works that follow a timeline divided into four eras will be on view. The beginning of the timeline looks to the African experience at the source of evolution, and then progresses through American eras of slavery, the post-slavery transition, and the modern day. The timeline concludes with a self portrait of the artist today.

“The self portrait is the only time my representation makes an appearance in the works, but I see reflections of my identity in the stories told in all of the pieces in the show. In one of the works, I contrast the lifestyles of two kids – one rich and one poor. The idea for the piece came out of a conversation with a friend who questioned how much historic prejudice influences the experience of being African American today,” says the artist. “I thought, how can I get her to see things from my perspective?”

A rich and dynamic portrait of African American experience is conveyed through Vincii’s works. A bright blue sky shining down on a cotton field during the slavery era is meant to show perseverance and hope for a different future. In a piece from the post-slavery era, a white man depicted in three phases – as an executioner; a member of the Ku Klux Klan; and as a man in a suit, intended to represent racism as a cloaked motive – shows shifting perspectives on discrimination. From the modern day era, two kids jumping on the bed evoke a playful interchange of love. The smaller child is depicted wearing a t-shirt with a design in the style of Keith Haring, a red heart jumping off his chest. This piece is currently on view as part of the This Is My Day Job exhibition at The Phillips Collection and will be reprised as part of Vincii’s show at The Fridge.

Joelvincii intends to generate conversation between viewers with this exhibition. He sees art, and the commentary that comes as a result of viewing art, as an opportunity to create a space for people to have conversations about race that may not be possible in other settings.

“I want people to be better informed. I want them to better understand the experience of what it means to be an African American living in America today,” says Joelvincii.

The Fridge is located at 516 1/2 8th St. SE in the rear alley.