Mary LeFlore Clements Oklahoma Gallery
Nov. 3, 2022 – April 30, 2023
Featuring seven artworks by three artists — Emily M. Chase, JJJJJerome Ellis and Anita Fields — Fugitive Speech explored acts of personal testimony in the face of social, cultural and historical odds. Through distinct perspectives and approaches to media, including textiles, video, photography and ceramics, the artworks in Fugitive Speech considered the relationship between voice, memory and time.
- Textile works by Emily M. Chase involved layers of sheer fabric reverse-dyed with images of floating, barely-there bodies. The resulting disembodied, doubled shapes evoked injury or cognitive loss, suggesting how memory — a full corporeal experience — is affected by mental and physical health.
- A video by JJJJJerome Ellis featured “erasure poems” that combine archival text with footage of place-based ceremonies. The images and sound combined to honor “enslaved ancestors” from the Central Plains region who had speech impediments similar to the artist’s own.
- Ceramic sculptures by Anita Fields were embedded with inherited Indigenous cultural symbols using ceramic seals. Utilizing the language of these heirloom designs, the surfaces were charged with tribal histories related to the transmission and loss of knowledge.
Together, the artworks in Fugitive Speech used images, words, sounds and symbols to convey stories of intergenerational pain and hope that slip through the gaps of collective history and personal memory.
This exhibition was supported by George Records, Richard and Glenna Tanenbaum, the Kanady Family, Annie Bohanon, the Chickasaw Nation, the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, the Osage Nation Foundation, Ad Astra, Oklahoma Arts Council and Velocigo.