The Armory Off-site, a program of the Armory Show, has partnered with the United States Tennis Association to showcase sculptural works at the US Open by five artists from marginalized communities.
The works will be displayed throughout the site of the Open, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in late August and early September.
The partnership builds on the open social justice campaign spearheaded by the tennis association’s managing director, Nicole Kankam. With diversity, inclusion and respect as the cornerstones of the campaign, in 2020 the tennis association, which owns and operates the US Open, is displaying work of 18 artists who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color, in the front, of empty seats. the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“It’s all built around this one grounding statement: When you keep an open mind, great things can happen in our sport and out in the world,” Kankam said of the campaign.
The artists whose works will be showcased this year include Jose Dávila, who is represented by the Sean Kelly Gallery; Myles Nurse, who is represented by the Half Gallery; Carolyn Salas, represented by Mrs. gallery; Luzene Hill of K Art; and Gerald Chukwuma, with Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery. Each artist will produce one work, with some pieces containing several parts. (The work will be for sale.)
Chukwuma, who incorporates elements of the Uli art tradition from his sculptural work in southeastern Nigeria, uses his pieces to represent voluntary and forced global migration.
“For Africa and for Africans, I think migration has done a lot,” Chukwuma, who is from eastern Nigeria, said in an interview. “It has not just differentiated us all over the world, it has also taken away our culture. It has watered down what we believe in, it has watered down who we are. “
Chukwuma intends to present a series of sculptures from the Igbo landing: In that early 19th-century landing, about 75 newly enslaved West Africans took control of a coastal vessel, grounded the ship and later marched into the waters of Dunbar Creek. in Georgia, committing mass suicide.
He said he is glad the work is going on in the United States. His series will eventually consist of 75 sculptures, for the enslaved Africans who rebelled. “So I think that’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “There is liberation there.”
Three of the five artists will create work especially for the US Open, including a sculpture by the indigenous artist Luzene Hill. The work, “To Rise and Begin Again,” is made up of undulating columns that symbolize the upward push of Cherokee sovereignty, defying efforts to crush it. Each column has a letterpress piece with a Cherokee syllabary spreading awareness of the written language.
“We’re still here, and we’re keeping up,” she said.
Hill said in an interview that she was honored and humbled to have her work displayed for a larger audience.
In partnering with the Tennis Association, Armory Off-site is striking to reach people who may be unfamiliar with the annual Armory Show, said Nicole Berry, Executive Director of the Armory Show.
The Armory Off-site began last September with a mission to introduce international elaborate artists to a wider audience.
“Hopefully we’ll create some art lovers out of the tennis fans,” Berry said, “and maybe vice versa.”