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Harbingers of Dreams

An exhibition by Teresa Tolliver, Paula and Edwin Sidman Fellow in the Arts
Monday, September 25, 2023
8:00 AM-5:00 PM
Institute for the Humanities Gallery, #1010 202 S. Thayer Map
Born in 1945, artist, educator, and mentor Teresa Tolliver has lived and worked in South Central L.A. for three decades. In 2022, she opened her first one-woman show at the prominent Sebastian Gladstone Gallery. Most recently, her work has been chosen for inclusion as part of L.A.’s Hammer Museum Biennial, which runs concurrently with her exhibition Harbingers of Dreams in the Institute for the Humanities Gallery.

Tolliver refers to her process as “creative recycling”: forging found and thrifted materials, and repurposing them. These frenetic bundles of coils, adornments, wires, and loose ends express the artist’s feelings, perspectives, and everyday way of living.

Earlier works of the artist are on a smaller scale and doll-like. They are intimate, imaginative references to Tolliver’s own girlhood in a world lacking adequate or authentic representations of Black life.

Tolliver’s more recent figurative assemblages are life-size, larger-than-life, looming. They command space and celebrate it. There is an inherent connection between these sculptures and the long-established history of African American yard art, where plants, statuary, and artistic creations communicate themes of personal space, freedom of expression, and dreams of independence. Tolliver’s bold visual choices and material combinations are refusals of outside value judgments and hierarchies.

When visiting artist Teresa Tolliver's home studio, one expects the figures will spring to life, otherworldly. They seem to gather and congregate. There are no distractions from the outside, save the light coming through the window. Through subtle details like molding, furniture, and drawers inspired by Tolliver’s own domestic space, Harbingers of Dreams attempts to capture the resplendent and spiritual nature of such a visit, with the opportunity to sit among the artist’s creations.

Tolliver’s figurative sculptures appear as embodiments of the city of L.A. and its diverse communities and neighborhoods. They are assemblages of disparate influences, esthetics, and materials: prefab, handmade, urban, nostalgic, opulent, functional, garish, and celestial. A visual cacophony of colors, influences, designs, and forms, each figure beckons us towards futures in the making.

Teresa Tolliver is the Paula and Edwin Sidman Fellow in the Arts at the Institute for the Humanities. This event is part of the LSA's fall 2023 Arts & Resistance theme semester.
Building: 202 S. Thayer
Event Type: Exhibition
Tags: African American, african and african american studies, african and afroamerican studies, american culture, Art, Arts And Activism, Exhibition, institute for the humanities, Visual Arts
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Institute for the Humanities
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