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Tuesday, February 18th, The Untitled Space held the opening of Nichole Washington’s debut New York solo exhibit entitled “Rebellious Black Girl.”  Collectors, friends, and fans came out to celebrate with the artist, and were heavily engaged in her work, asking in-depth questions about her methods and inspirations, while enjoying tunes by her husband, DJ Nick Neutronz, who was spinning at the event. Washington’s positive energy glowed along with the bright palette of her artwork at the gallery.

In a recent interview with Quiet Lunch, Washington stated the premise of her show was centered around the idea of how “…our identities (as black women) are so often policed or limited. This is a middle finger to all that.” With her artwork, she plays with themes centered around feminine strength, identity, and spirituality. She provides voice, liberation, and individuality to each of her pieces. She does this with precision and heart, and it is reflective within her variety of mixed media platforms. She utilizes bright colors, large brushstrokes, abstract layouts and designs as a parallel to the focus of black women as a symbol of power, strength, and beauty. In her artist statement she describes how the space in her work is structured for healing and transformation, while specific details within the pieces are used as a language of communication and protection.

In her artist statement Washington speaks about the inspiration behind her latest series, “Growing up in the suburbs of Roseville, Minnesota, I was often burdened by monolithic views of what it meant to be a black girl. The way I spoke, dressed and wore my hair were often scrutinized. Today, many black girls and women must navigate these same struggles and because of racism as well as sexism they are not afforded the luxury of being looked at without bias. These works represent a rejection of the limited ideas placed upon my existence. They blur the lines between real and imagined, creating unique myths that make space for the many layers of my identity.”

The “Rebellious Black Girl” exhibition is presented in conjunction with Black History Month, which is dedicated to celebrating African-American and Black people’s contributions, lives, and events. Black History Month originated as a concept in 1970 at Kent State, and six years later President Ford officially recognized it as an annual occurrence that would take place in the month of February, stating the purpose is to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since it’s inception it has expanded to many other countries and continents.

Washington’s art focuses on breaking boundaries of perceived societal roles, while bringing attention to the modern, “rebellious black girl.” She challenges, through her art, the pre-paved paths of identity that are imposed on young, black women in America. “Patience has been one of the most important lessons on my journey. Also, have confidence in your vision. You’ll come across people with a lot of different opinions of your work-learn to filter that through what you know to be true. Not everyone will love what you do, find those who do and want you to succeed,” she stated in a recent interview.

Washington’s exhibit will be on show at The Untitled Space until February 28, 2020.

Photography by Mikhail Torich

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