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Lavett Ballard | When She Roars


Featured on cover: When She Roars Artwork Š Lavett Ballard 2


Lavett Ballard When She Roars presented by Long-Sharp Gallery


We Shall Not Be Moved 2020 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 40 X 36 INCHES


With the publication of this catalogue, we are delighted to announce Long-Sharp Gallery’s representation of Lavett Ballard and the opening of her first solo exhibit with our gallery, When She Roars. I first came across Ballard’s work in 2018. When my husband and I acquired and hung our first of her works, I could not take my eyes off it. I walk past the painting several times each day and take notice of it each time. It is work that commands one’s attention, not loudly, but persistently. It is work that asks questions. It challenges. The more one looks, the more one sees. Many others have been captivated by Ballard’s work. Indeed, her audience grew exponentially in March of 2020 when TIME Magazine’s cover featured her work depicting Rosa Parks (at left, collage on reclaimed fence, not for sale). As an aside, one can buy a reproduction of the “cover art”, as TIME calls it, but the artist receives nothing from the purchase. If we are the first to introduce you to Ballard’s work, it is our privilege. To those, I hope you are as impacted as I continue to be. If you are already in the LB “fan club”, as it were, I hope you will join us in welcoming her to Long-Sharp Gallery. Our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Tanisha Jackson for writing the foreword to this catalogue, to Anthony Ballard for his assistance with logistics, to Emperia Ltd. for their creativity in designing the virtual exhibition that accompanies this exhibit, and to the collectors who support the artists making their way.

Rhonda Long-Sharp, J.D. Owner, Long-Sharp Gallery


When She Roars: Creating a space for when and where we enter Tanisha M. Jackson, Ph.D.

“When she is quiet, she is ignored. But the world stands to attention when she roars.” Lavett Ballard

The Year 2020 marks when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote 100 years ago. It took almost a century of protest, and the demand for women’s suffrage became the cornerstone for the women’s rights movement. This monumental gain involved the collective efforts of many, including Black women, whose silence is often predicated by the intersection of race and gender. Notwithstanding, Black women in the United States have always played a significant hand in the nation’s turning points. I am reminded of this when I look at the visual artwork of Lavett Ballard. She reconfigures images on reclaimed wooden fences and adds vibrant colors to tell the herstory of powerful Black women. When I first came across Ballard’s artwork, I was drawn to the unique materials she uses to center African Diaspora experiences. The texture and the use of reclaimed wood remind me of what playwright August Wilson so eloquently wrote in his 1985 play Fences, “(s)ome people build fences to keep people out, and some people build fences to keep people in.” However, Ballard introduces another utility of fences in her work when she uses the medium to pull in her audience. She does this by collecting and repurposing photographs that chronicle her family history and pictures she pulls from historical archives. These images, adorned with paint and other materials, speak to what Ballard describes as her strong affinity for imagery and history that has led her to focus on creating a visual lexicon of African American, female, self-identity. The materials she uses also serve as a perfect composition for Ballard’s attempt to reclaim and restore the history and present-day experiences of people whose voices are often stifled, distorted, or pushed to the periphery. In conversation with Ballard, I’ve also come to understand that this artist is a feminist who subtly presents her political stance. Her artmaking process serves as an “asymmetrical emotional balance” as she first selects gorgeous portraits of African American women from archives and adds gold foil to show their regality along with tribal marks on their faces to connect them to Africa. Yet, alongside their beauty, Ballard simultaneously shows these women’s pain and struggles. The duality of beauty and pain gives more complexity to the figures in Ballard’s work and their metaphorical roars. It adds explicitly to viewers’ understanding that Black women are multifaceted and diverse in their experiences while simultaneously sharing everyday experiences. In 2017, Ballard created her first large wooden fence artwork, When She Roars, that centers the historical figure, Mattie Howard, a young 17-year old Civil Rights protester that photographers captured being arrested during the 1963 Children’s Crusade march in Birmingham, Alabama. This historical photo originally includes two Birmingham police officers holding Howard’s stretched out arms and hands at each end. Ballard replaces the officer on the right side of Howard with an image of three young women from the Black Panther Party (Los Angeles Chapter), and one of the women is now holding Howard’s hand. Ballard’s technique of superimposing these two hands together creates a narrative that the women from the Black Panther Party are holding Howard up. It sends a message of sisterhood and “we got you” that is integral to Black women’s experience and survival as a collective. Also in When She Roars (2017) are other images of Black women protesting with fists in the air that add to the motif of peaceful protest found in different


wood collages such as Resistance (2019), and We Shall Not Be Moved (2020), a mixed media collage featured on the cover of TIME Magazine’s March 2020 issue in celebration of Women’s History Month and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. We Shall Not Be Moved (2020) shows the iconic image of Rosa Parks along with unsung heroes and pictures from the Civil Rights Movement. Ballard’s homage to Black women’s participation in securing justice and equality is a visual documentation of Black women’s roars and efficacy. And, she successfully brings together figures from various periods and geographical locations. As one of a very selective cohort of artists whose artwork is featured in the TIME Magazine issue, this platform extends and lights Ballard’s path as she rises as an artist of prominence who is roaring out through her visual narratives. Ballard’s wooden fence sculptures are particularly interesting because of their scale and the opportunity she takes to tell Black women’s stories from multiple angles. First, they are typically 72-inches high and are sometimes exhibited as diptych and triptych installations surrounded by potting soil at their base. The large-scale pieces in Ballard’s exhibition add a grounding effect and a sense of Black women roaring, much like when a peacock spreads its tail to get attention, and you see its vibrant colored feathers. Like peacocks, Ballard is also trying to get us to pay attention and forces us to engage with her work; we have no way of avoiding these images. However, Ballard’s large installations are tempered by smaller images layered with just enough pop of color and painted objects that compel viewers to look closer to see the details. Similarly, Ballard calls for our attention by making full use of these in the round sculptures. On the backside of the large installations are what she calls “shadow figures” that complement the narratives conveyed on the artwork’s front side. For example, in one of Ballard’s newest works, She Has Risen (2020), she uses soft pastel colors on dark wood to tell the story of young girls and women rising up and coming into their own within their respective communities. Another imagery speaks to Black women’s contribution to nationhood when we consider a figure of an older Black woman sewing an American flag. These figures are collectively surrounded by beautiful flowers, patterns, and white orbs of light that guide our eyes through a complete journey of the piece. Notwithstanding, when we enter a gallery approaching the backside of She Has Risen (2020), we are introduced to a shadow figure. There stands the silhouette of a Black woman holding up orbs of gold, bronze, and copper lights that serve as planets. Ballard subtly creates hair through burnt and smudged wood, and there are orbs of light adorned on the figure as a headdress and necklace that drizzles down her body. Like the images on the front side of this sculpture, the shadow figure has risen and controls the light. Like all of the shadow figures in Ballard’s work, this figure pulls us closer into the artwork so that regardless of which side you approach her sculptures, you get the same narrative floating between both sides. Shadows reflect the figures without seeing the literal context and exist because of the blocking out of light. Metaphorically, Ballard’s shadow figures serve as a counterpart to the self that encompasses a bit of mystic. Conceptually, these shadows bring another layer of meaning to When She Roars because the roars of the shadows are the unmanifested and unheard lessons, dreams, and characteristics of Black women that often get buried and marginalized. Ballard visually gives “space” to the unknown parts of Black women that show their complexity and vulnerability. Even as they roar, Black women hold on to their softness and femininity, which is equally as important as being heard. As we navigate uncertain times due to a global health pandemic (COVID-19) compounded by what feels like insurmountable odds brought on by racial tension in the United States, in particular, this exhibition is a timely conversation that gives new meaning to the hashtag “Say Her Name.” Ballard has created a space for healing, and wellness, during a time when many of us feel fragmented and isolated. She makes a sense of “place” for the images she so carefully excavates and researches to bring them the visibility they so often have been denied but rightfully deserve. And, most importantly, Ballard challenges emerging generations of scholars and collectors to raise questions about how more space can be given to artists like her to provide a complete picture of all of those involved in forming a more perfect union.


Photo by Johnathan Kolbe

Lavett Ballard holds a dual Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and Art History with a minor in Museum Studies (Rutgers University), as well as a MFA in Studio Arts (University of the Arts, Philadelphia).

Ballard describes her work as a re-imagined visual narrative of people of African descent. Her use of imagery reflects social issues affecting primarily Black women’s stories within a historical context. Her current body of work uses collaged photos adorned with paint, oil pastels, and metallic foils. These photos are deconstructed and layered on reclaimed wood fences; the use of fences is a symbolic reference to how fences keep people in and out physically, just as racial and gender identities do so socially. The fusion of wood and photography offers artwork that both explores Ballard’s southern roots, as well as visually speaks volumes to continuing themes within her community. Her artwork has been featured on the cover of TIME Magazine, selected for the “100 Women of the Year” edition in 2020. Named by Black Art in America as one of the Top 10 Female Emerging Artists to Collect, Ballard has placed works in the private collections of the African American Museum of Philadelphia, the Colored Girls Museum, the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection, and the Grant and Tamia Hill Private Collections.


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Lavett Ballard

When She Roars Long-Sharp Gallery Virtual


Hey Black Child 2019 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 55 X 54 INCHES 9,000 USD

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How Qualified Do I Have To Be? 2018 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 39 X 41 INCHES SOLD

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When She Roars 2017 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 30 X 63 INCHES 8,000 USD

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This Is Me 2020 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 71 X 41 INCHES 10,000 USD

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Pride vs. Prejudice 2018 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 29 X 60 INCHES 7,000 USD

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She Reigns 2018 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 72 X 40 INCHES 10,500 USD

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Lavett Ballard

Other Works


The Shaman 2020 COLLAGE/MIXED MEDIA ON HAND-CARVED BIRCHWOOD PANEL 36 X 24 INCHES 4,000 USD

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Broken Yet Healed 2020 COLLAGE/MIXED MEDIA ON HAND-CARVED BIRCHWOOD PANEL 48 X 36 INCHES 5,500 USD

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Blues Baby 2018 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 34 X 22 INCHES 4,000 USD

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Brotherly Love & Sisterly Affection 2018 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 32 X 66 INCHES 9,000 USD

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Copacetic 2019 COLLAGE/MIXED MEDIA ON HAND-CARVED BIRCHWOOD PANEL 24 X 12 INCHES 2,000 USD

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Pardon Me 2017 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 20 X 16 INCHES 2,000 USD

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Still I Rise 2017 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 72 X 48 INCHES 10,500 USD

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Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine 2019 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 48 X 24 INCHES 5,000 USD

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Sweet Thing 2017 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 20 X 16 INCHES 2,000 USD

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Resistance 2019 COLLAGE/MIXED MEDIA ON HAND-CARVED BIRCHWOOD PANEL 30 X 24 INCHES 3,800 USD

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The Caretakers 2020 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 20 X 16 INCHES SOLD

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Entitled 2020 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 37 X 24 INCHES SOLD

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Who’s Your Mama? 2020 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 34 X 37 INCHES 5,000 USD

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She Has Risen 2020 MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE ON RECLAIMED WOOD 68 X 31 INCHES 10,500 USD

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Lavett D. Ballard EDUCATION

2017 2014

University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA MFA Studio Art Rutgers Camden Double Major BA Studio Arts Painting & Art History

SELECT SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2020 2020 2019 2019

Saint Joseph’s University ‘Just Like A Woman’ Philadelphia, PA Rutgers University SWG ‘Her-Stories: Visual Narratives of Women of the African Diaspora’ Camden, NJ Noyes Museum Stockton University ‘Souls of Black Folk’ Atlantic City, NJ Art Sanctuary ‘Reclaiming Her Time’ Philadelphia, PA

SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2020 2020 2019 2019 2019 2018 2018 2018 2018 2018 2017 2017

Galerie Myrtis ‘Women Heal through Rite and Ritual’ Baltimore, MD Penn State ‘Women X Women’ Petrucci Family Foundation Group Show Lehigh Valley, PA Noyes Museum of Art, Kramer Hall ‘Driving While Black’ Atlantic City , NJ Houston Museum of African American Culture ‘Dorsey Family Collection’ Houston, TX Noba Art space, ‘PHOTO-Based’ Bala Cynwyd, PA Trestle Project Space Gallery ‘Contain Her’ New York, NY African American Museum of Philadelphia ‘Art for Social Change’ Philadelphia PA Timicua Arts House ‘Housewives Collectives’ Orlando, FL Little Berlin Gallery ‘Mother’s Day’ Philadelphia, PA Rush Arts Gallery Philadelphia ‘Giving up the Ghosts’ Philadelphia, PA MFA Thesis Exhibition, Icebox Project Space Philadelphia, PA The Colored Girls Museum ‘Urgent Care’ Philadelphia, PA

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dobrin, Peter, ‘Philly actors, musicians, dancers can’t imagine when they’ll work again…,’ Philadelphia Inquirer April 2020 Graves-El, Ahmad, ‘Timeless Perfection: Local Artist Creates Cover for TIME’s 100 Women of the Year Issue,’ SNJToday April 2020 Cover Art, ‘1955 The Bus Boycotters’ Special edition Women of the Year - TIME Magazine March 2020 Valentine, Victoria, ‘Time Magazine Recognizes 100 years of Influential women with Covers by...,’ Culturetype Magazine March 2020 Osterheldt, Jenee, ‘Art Basel bears far better fruit than that $120,000 banana,’ The Boston Globe December 2019 Robinson, Shantay, ‘Artist on the Move: Lavett Ballard,’ Black Art In America.com June 2018 Najuma, Ayana, ‘New Generation of Artists weaves common threads for community empowerment,’ March on Washington Film Festival catalog July 2018 Robinson, Shantay, ‘10 Emerging Black Female Artists to Collect’ Black Art In America.com June 2018 Carroll, Angela N. ‘Giving Up the Ghost Artifacts/A Study of Power & Solidarity Against White Violence in Modernity,’ Sugarcane Magazine/ Global Black Art & Culture Februrary 2018 Friedman, Sally, ‘Juried show offers a generous display of S.J. talent’, Courier Post ARTs section September 2014 Carbone, Mariel ‘Art for Every Taste,’ Burlington County Times September 2014 ‘RU Ready’ Rutgers University Camden, MATTER Magazine January 2012 ‘Art Scene NJ’ Featured Artist Article 2008 ‘Home Décor with a personal touch” Burlington County Times March 2008 ‘Voices and Vision Art’ Burlington County Times February 2007 2004 Mikel, Valerie ‘Lavett Ore knows how to paint the own’ 2001


MEDIA

Studionoize Podcast ‘In My Life Time w/ Lavett Ballard’ Yale University Radio - Praxis ‘Interview with Brainard Carey’ Good Day Street Talk, Fox News NY, ‘African American Art and its impact today’ Monmouth County Local Television ‘Struggles and Success in the Arts’ PNC African American Festival SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS/VISITING ARTIST LECTURES

2019 2018 2016

Tulane University, Visiting Artist Speaker Series New Orleans, LA International Curators International, Livestream Artist Talk on Social Justice Kean University at Ocean, Visiting Artist Symposium Toms River, NJ

AWARDS AND HONORS

2020 2018 2018 2018 2018 2016 2014-15 2014 2014 2014 2014 2013

Yaddo Artist Residency Summer Fellow Listed by Black Art in America as one of the ‘Top 10 Emerging Black Female Artists to Collect’ The Colored Girls Museum Artist-in-Residence Alice C. Cole Fellowship Nominee, Wesley College The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Fellowship, Nominee through the AAMP Artist of the Year of Philadelphia, The Harvest Spoken Soul 215 1st Annual Awards Bombay Sapphire Artisan Competition Semi-Finalist NY & Philadelphia University of the Arts, Graduate Fellowship Philadelphia, PA Odyssey Arts Award Travel Scholarship Gullkistan Student Artist Residency Gulfoss, Iceland First Place Center for the Arts of Southern NJ Marlton, NJ Roberta K. Tarbell Art History Scholarship

SELECT PATRONS/COLLECTORS

The Petrucci Family Foundation Art Collection The Grant and Tamia Hill Art Collection Stockton University Art Collection Syracuse University Collection/Community Folk Arts Center Saint Joseph’s University/Barnes Museum, Shared Private Collection ABC Studios CBS Studios NBC/Universal Studios The Colored Girls Museum African American Heritage Museum of South Jersey


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L O N G S H A R P G A L L E R Y. C O M

Profile for Long-Sharp Gallery/MMFA

Lavett Ballard | When She Roars  

Lavett Ballard | When She Roars