‘Songs for Ritual and Remembrance’ shows impressive and moving works

Lane Timothy Speidel for Artblog
The show opens with a generous view of “Production 5,” a large richly textured paper piece by Adebunmi Gbadebo. Gorgeous blues and blacks come together in rice paper to weave a story of ancestry. The genetic link of hair works with the material connection of rice and indigo to create a multi-generational connection. Both rice and indigo were grown by her ancestors who were enslaved on the True Blue Plantation in South Carolina. This same blue carries through to the back of the gallery, highlighting a ceramic piece by Gbadebo, “In Memory of K Smalls died 19?? HFS”. A piece made from soil that her ancestors worked and tilled, with South Carolina gold rice placed in decoration protruding from the surface. Of the work, Gbadebo says, “The making of the work has been a practice of healing and a practice of care for their memories and what remains of their physical bodies, it’s in the soil.” An element of the installation is an audio track playing a hymn sung by the artist’s family at a funeral. The lyrics are “Sit down servant, rest a little while…I know you are tired, sit down and rest a little while”. Paired with the piece, “Pews”, two church pews built by her ancestors in 1890 a beautiful portrait of death and healing across generations is produced.
July 14, 2023