From January 7-28, 2022, New City Arts presents You can't compromise my joy., an exhibition of new work by Fall 2021 New City Artist-in-Residence, Kori Price.
COVID-19 Visitor Policy: Masks are required at all times for all visitors, regardless of vaccination status. Capacity will be limited to 5 people at a time at Welcome Gallery. Please do not come to Welcome Gallery if you have been exposed to COVID-19, are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or have been advised to isolate or quarantine. For those who would prefer to see the exhibition by private appointment, make a free appointment here to see the exhibition in January.
Exhibition Statement (courtesy of the artist)
Say this out loud: You can’t compromise my joy.
The words we speak have power. The title of this exhibition is meant to be spoken as a mantra both as you walk through the gallery and as you walk through the world afterwards. As a Black person, it feels as if our every action is under examination and compared to “perfection” (read as: white beauty, social, class, and economical standards). We are told that we can exist if we conform. Though, even if we do conform, the color of our skin is still a target for racism on a scale including suburban Karens who feel threatened by our existence; school officials and workplaces that say our natural hair is not appropriate; white men with guns “protecting” their neighborhoods from Black people walking home or out for a run; and law enforcement that kneels on us until we can’t breathe or charges into our homes in the middle of the night and kills us in our groggy daze. We face this reality every single day. That at any time, without warning we or our loved ones could be the next face spray painted on the side of a building or sketched with sharpie on cardboard signs. Our name could be a part of protest chants or a hashtag under a blank black square on Instagram. That even if we are murdered, we may not receive the justice that we deserve. Yet, amidst this terror, this threat to our existence, we live. We choose to experience joy.
This tension and turbulence between joy and terror affect our body, soul, and mind. For this exhibition I created a Black woman’s headspace to demonstrate to how this tension between joy and terror can exist internally. The gallery windows are obscured by fabrics woven with different colored and textured Black hair to stand as a barrier between what is external to the Black woman and what is internal. Once inside, the viewer must continually choose to experience joy as they navigate between portraits of Black women from our community doing something that brings them joy and a representation of the terror that Black women face.
This representation of terror comes from a personal reminder that on any day, without warning, I could be harmed or killed because of the color of my skin. While this notion is not unfamiliar to me (I, like many other Black people, was raised with the understanding that my skin color makes me a target for inequalities) there are certain events and stories that hit home harder than others and Breonna Taylor’s murder was that for me. A few months after I moved into my home I had a peaceful encounter with police officers knocking on my door in the middle of the night looking for the previous homeowner. I didn’t think much of that interaction until years later in 2020 when Breonna Taylor was murdered in her own home in the middle of the night because police officers were looking for people who weren’t there. To translate this reminder into something physical, I painted a piece of sheetrock the same color as my bedroom and shot it thirty-two times to represent the number of bullets police officers fired into Breonna Taylor’s home. In addition, I display pages from some of the investigative reports from her case.
For Black women, choosing joy is an act of resistance. We will not live in fear of terror, hate, racism, or oppression. Instead we will live for reading books or jogging in the park. We will live for wrapping our wrists and hands as we prepare to box. We will live for cozy moments with our children. We will live for good wine, food, and friends. We will live for creating art. We will live to feel the sun kiss our skin again and again. We will live for joy.
Say this out loud: You can’t compromise my joy.
About Kori Price
Kori Price is a photographer and writer based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Originally from Culpeper, Kori has been proud to call Central Virginia home for most of her life and is passionate about telling the stories of her community. Kori holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech and seeks to maintain a balance between her technical and creative interests with her work. She is also the host of the Charlottesville chapter of CreativeMornings and is a founding member of the Charlottesville Black Arts Collective. Kori has been a resident artist at New City Arts Initiative as well as a writer in-residence at McGuffey Arts Center. Her work has been exhibited at New City Arts Initiative, The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, Studio IX, McGuffey Arts Center, and Second Street Gallery.
Artwork image and bio courtesy of the artist.
The 2021 New City Arts Artist-in-Residence program was supported by the Bama Works Fund of Dave Matthews Band at the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation (CACF). As always, this exhibit opening reception is free and open to the public. All ages are welcome.
Located at 114 3rd St. NE, Welcome Gallery is downtown, storefront art space in Charlottesville, VA, run by New City Arts Initiative, a non-profit community arts organization. This same location houses NCAI staff offices and a studio space.