Shakira Hunt: Give Me My Flowers + Crystal Latimer: KEEPSAKES: Storied
Posted on October 16 2021
Shakira Hunt’s series Give Me My Flowers explores the Black male experience with an emphasis on creating space for a softer, more feminine side. She poses her subjects, who are all friends or acquaintances, with abundant blooming flowers. For Hunt, the flowers are both a sign of emotion and a symbol of honor or respect — we give people flowers as an act of love in times of mourning or celebration. Her first piece for the series is set on a basketball court in order to combine the typically masculine Black male experience with florals and fabrics. In juxtaposing these symbols and showing them as actually congruent, she reconstructs the narrative of what masculinity means — and what femininity means in relation to it. The work also has a personal meaning for Hunt, as a way to unpack her relationships between partners and with her father. As part of the series, Hunt conducted interviews with a variety of Black men about their experience of masculinity. Her images are printed on watercolor paper to add a textured realism to the skin and bodies of her subjects while amplifying the colors in the images. The exhibition will include a towering installation of crates overflowing with dried flowers from the photoshoots. The installation is an ode to the artist’s childhood, in which a recycled crate stood as an important object for play, often operating as a makeshift basketball hoop. The installation amplifies the greater themes of the exhibition by literalizing a hard rough exterior frame integrated with softer, feminine elements.
Crystal Latimer’s ongoing series KEEPSAKES also inverts traditional expectations around gender expression. A keepsake's value lies in its sentiment — its worth is defined by the owner's relationship to the memento. Latimer’s intricate and colorful multimedia works combine reference imagery of rugs and tapestries with vintage photographs of women to explore themes of self-worth, inner strength, and personal empowerment. Woven tapestries were traditionally created by women and rooted in the craft of storytelling. Latimer’s works depict women as cowgirls and animals including wolves, bears, and cheetahs, brazen symbols of an inner wildness. These animals are surrounded by portraits of women, arresting in their gaze and purposefully confrontational to the viewer. Latimer wants viewers to feel emboldened by the works, which encourage women to embrace a devil-may-care attitude and strength typically reserved for men. The most recent additions to this series are larger and more intricate than any of her previous works, with a greater emphasis on animal imagery and symbolic storytelling. In the tapestries, flora represent rebirth and birds allude to freedom. An abundance of decorative gilding and jewel-toned palettes reinforce the idea of value and worth. Affixed tassels add dimension and realism to the tapestry motif.
Both exhibitions examine, interrogate, and ultimately expand the stories we tell ourselves — and that society tells us — about our capacity for strength and for softness, for vulnerability and for freedom. Where can we break open these definitions and embrace something fuller and more fulfilling? The shows prove, as Hunt describes it, that masculinity and femininity are just energies which cannot, and should not, be boxed in or defined by any one person or thing.
Shakira Hunt is a practicing photographer and designer based in Wilmington, DE. Shakira graduated from Moore College of Art & Design, where she earned a BFA in Interior Design. Shakira’s design career kicked off with a year-long internship in Philadelphia, which led her to her first design role in Wilmington. Though her design experience contributed to who she is at the core, expanding her understanding of culture, human connection, and how this all relates to creating space and experiences, Shakira later explored all of this through the lens of a new medium, photography. .
Shakira’s background in design, influences and draws inspiration from the exploration of new cities, places, nature, textures, and colors that connect her with fellow creatives and communities. Hunt enjoys engaging with local artists and creative entities to thrive, build, and connect, with an emphasis on creating economic sustainability throughout the black entrepreneurial landscape of Wilmington.
Shakira’s first solo exhibition for “give me my flowers” took place over the course of Summer 2021 at the Delaware Contemporary Museum, where she hosted a series of printed works, an installation, and a visual short documentary. Shakira strategically expanded the body of work, but accompanying the series with wellness centered programming such as a panel discussion, and wellness event.
About Crystal Latimer
Crystal Latimer was born in Hollywood, CA but grew up in Ellwood City, PA. In 2010, Crystal completed her BFA Slippery Rock University. She then went to receive an MA and MFA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2013 and 2016, respectively.
Crystal's work has been shown extensively in both solo and group exhibitions, including at Paradigm Gallery, Pittsburgh International Airport, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Chautauqua Institution, George Washington University among others. Internationally, she has exhibited at the London Art Fair, La Galleria at Pall Mall London, and held a residency in Sarchi, Costa Rica. Crystal's work has been featured in Create!, Pikchur, Art Maze, Ruminate, and Fresh Paint Magazines. Her work is included in public and private collections nationally and internationally; public collections including those of Indiana State University of Pennsylvania, PNC Corporate, the Benter Foundation, and Wyndham Tryp Hotel.
About Paradigm Gallery
Paradigm Gallery + Studio® was established in 2010 by co-founders and curators, Jason Chen and Sara McCorriston. The gallery exhibits meaningful, process-intense contemporary artwork from around the world. Now open 11 years, Paradigm Gallery is globally recognized and known as a tastemaker within their greater Philadelphia arts community. As the gallery grows, it maintains its original mission to keep art accessible. Through monthly donations, free public art installations, and initiatives like Insider Picks, Paradigm Gallery continues to be a champion of small businesses and emerging and mid-career artists.
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