Artists Nyame Brown, Bethany Collins, Nicole Marroquin, Chris Pappan, and Jessica Vaughn devise their own language of symbols, visual cues, and narrative structures that expose and subvert the racial inequality woven into American society. Written and coded methods of communication are tools these artists employ in their paintings, drawings, textiles and prints to translate important lessons of protest and cultural preservation. Whether fact or folktale, the stories they choose to tell are revived through a modernist or conceptual approach and directly connect the past to the future, while challenging the author of history itself.

The title of the exhibition references Ta-Nehisi Coates’ nonfiction book Between the World and Me (2015), in which Coates’ tender narrative written to his son teaches the human toll of racial disparity and discusses the various systems in place that support a segregated America. Similarly, the artists in the exhibition borrow historic texts and materials that represent values-based behaviors—from Brer Rabbit and Homer’s Odyssey to newspapers, maps and manuals—and expose embedded systems of inequity, while suggesting methods to circumvent the system.

The Odyssey: 1965 / 1996, 2021; Graphite and toner on Somerset paper; 44” x 30” | 111.76 x 76.20 cm; Framed: 46 1/2” x 32 3/8” x 1 3/4” | 118.11 x 82.04 x 4.45 cm