Our hands do so much for us, we use them to touch, feel, and hold. In creative arts, the hands speak to the paintbrush, or the artist’s preferred medium, to convey human emotions. Artists share their deepest thoughts and experiences through the manipulation of their hands.“With These Hands,” a new group contemporary art exhibit in Atlanta serves to showcase the power of artists’ hands. Curated by Natassha Chambliss, the founder of Lines Gallery, the exhibit features five artists represented by the Gallery: Na-Tiyana Davis, Jency Sekaran, Nadiyah Oyawoye Najah, Reginald Laurent, and Sandy Teepen. It will be held at the Future Art Gallery in Underground Atlanta from April 23rd to May 7th.
The curator of the exhibit, Natassha Chambliss, put the exhibit together to show how artists breathe life into their works, on and off the canvas. She was inspired to curate an exhibit focused on artists’ hands after one of the artists her gallery represents, Na-Tiyana Davis, was commissioned to create an original piece for a client. The piece she created was a set of hands holding a work-scrubs-blue heart with a white cross on it. This got Chambliss thinking about how much she is fascinated by the way artists use their hands to create and she wanted to showcase their efforts on a larger scale.
The title of the exhibition reflects Chambliss’s “amazement at how artists tell stories and communicate with us through the results and efforts of talented hands” and that she “was always vexed by how complicated hands are to draw and paint, so there are some works in the exhibit with hands incorporated into them.” In the show, you’ll witness the many ways these artists express themselves with their hands through painted works, embroidered looms, collaged pieces, quilted items, woodcuts assemblages, and prints.
Choosing the artists to show at the exhibit was a simple process for Chambliss and came down to plain terms of nepotism. Her experience with Lines Gallery has put her in contact with so many talented creatives over the past 4 years of its existence. All the artists selected are quite popular among her collectors, so she wanted to put them in the spotlight. “I also felt pulling them together in a group exhibition would be like the portfolio coming to life” explained Chambliss.
One of the featured artists, Na-Tiyana Davis, 26, is the youngest of the group, and her work is on display for the first time at this exhibit. Chambliss informed us that Davis’work sells very well and is immensely praised and admired by the gallery’s clients. Playing off of the title of the exhibit “With These Hands,” Davis has painted actual hands into her pieces in combination with her love for plant life. One of her paintings, “Camelia,” displays a beautiful arrangement of red marigolds with hands coming to life, reaching out to touch the flowers. She often finds inspiration in Japanese animations, which she has adored since childhood, and the nature she surrounds herself with. Being an introvert, Davis constantly finds herself in the company of Mother Nature, therefore influencing many of her artworks. “There is something so refreshing–so inviting about the shapes and colors plants provide that I feel compelled to portray as much as I can in as many works as possible,” she expressed. Her art style has mainly been influenced by Japanese media and through it, she hopes to “connect with other black youth that shares her interest and combine the style of art she grew up loving with the beauty of Black bodies and bring that to the art world.” You can find her impressive collection on the Lines Gallery website or visit them in person at the exhibition.
Jency Sekaran, an Indian-American artist and scientist also played a part in the exhibit. Her unique background in both art and science inspires her creations. The figures in her work are relative to her own identity, that break the standards of Indian culture through westernized poses, hair length and color, clothing, and tattoos. Patterns and designs are the true anchors of her work. She uses organic chemistry and henna designs, to symbolize the unity of two identities. In her creative processes, she utilizes many different mediums such as printmaking, illustration, and embroidery, often mixing them together. Jency is another coveted artist of Lines Gallery, and her work in the exhibit shines a light on how beautiful and powerful women of color are across cultural classifications.
Nadiyah Oyawoye Najah created the very first pieces that were sold by Lines Gallery and has continued to surprise collectors with her intricate work. Her creations represent the vulnerability of humanity, which she illustrates through related patterns, varied textures, blocks of color, and overlapping layers. The visual art she makes conveys the stories of humankind from her unique perspective that all aspects of life are interconnected. She expresses on her website that her creative self “is rooted in the constant exploration to find order, balance, and composition in her life.” Her lively mixed-media works showcase the inner workings of her brain and its thoughts, feelings, and impulses. The exhibit revealed some of her greatest mixed media pieces.
Reginald Laurent, whose art imitates life itself, was another talented artist included in the showcase. His work is representative of the diversity and inclusion of every culture, which he exemplifies with the use of brilliant colors and interesting shapes. For him, colors and shapes define his world and reveal it to his viewers. Art is a powerful tool, and one that Laurent expresses well, he uses it to express the fantasies found in his dreams and daydreams. He believes that in his paintings “there is a kind of imagination which has liberated the details of reality in order to allow it to serve freely for the representation of things conceived in the mind. Laurent works with various techniques to create abstract pieces. He paints on and off the canvas, no matter the medium used, you can see his DNA forged into the work. It is no wonder why he is so highly respected by Lines Gallery clients. His creations in the exhibit illustrate his most profound thoughts on canvas.
Sandy Teepen is the creative force behind her brand SandiesLabel and creates beautiful fabric designs. She is a Lines Gallery favorite who specializes in collages made from different fabrics, papers, and things she collects, to form a variety of things such as quilts, furniture, wall hangings, and more. Her work is spontaneous and improvisational, much like the jazz music she enjoys. Sandieslabel focuses on creating one-of-a-kind memorable pieces with materials that hold a special place in one’s heart. Her display at the exhibit showed off the best and brightest of her quilted collages.
The curator of this great display of collaboration, Natassha Chambliss, brought together some of the finest artists from Lines Gallery. Soon to be a physical studio space, the gallery works with rising and mid-career artists whose works have been underrepresented and, in some cases, absent from gallery and museum narratives. The gallery hosts pop-up exhibitions and fundraising events in spaces all around Georgia. Each art event and opportunity shines a light on some remarkable individuals and their remarkable work. Chambliss partners with various artists to identify fantastic works that meet the needs of their collectors and find homes for those artists’ works by building strong relationships with collectors. “Partnering and collaborating to elevate the arts in Atlanta in a way that respects and keeps the artist at the heart of what is going on is what we strive to accomplish in every event,” Chambliss shared in an interview with Voyage Atl.
Art has been instilled in Chambliss’s life for as long as she can remember. In her youth, she studied art history and strived to explore as many aspects of visual art as possible. At one point, she saw her future in art but was blessed with a child who made her reconsider. Instead, she went to college and studied business management but continued to feel drawn by the arts. Nearly 20 years later, discontent with her corporate job and her kids leaving home, she began to find her way back to the arts. She soon realized she was no longer a practicing artist but instead could use her corporate background to help artists that needed support from someone who knows the business side of the arts. From there, a gallery felt like a natural fit for her, thus the creation of Lines Gallery.
Recently, Chambliss was awarded the Underground Atlanta Arts and Future Gallery’s first Curator in Residence opportunity by fellow artist, mentor, and friend, Eugene Byrd. Under his guise, she was able to “shadow and learn from someone who has been doing this for years and has one of the dopest art spaces in Atlanta.” Byrd is the founder of Future Dead Artists, an arts agency, and the operator of the Future Art Gallery. His support has made the exhibit possible by providing a space for these artists to display their creative efforts.
Chambliss hopes that the “With These Hands” exhibit will allow viewers to get to know each of these artists and for their works to connect with their audience the way the artists intended them to. She encourages readers to take a moment to visit the show; it will be on display from April 23rd until May 7th at Future Art Gallery. And attend the Artist Talk on May 7th from 2-4 p.m. to learn more about how this show came together and to hear from this talented group of contemporary artists.