Church of Broken Pieces at Richard Beavers Gallery
In the latest exhibit at the Richard Beavers Gallery is Philadelphia based artist Shawn Theodore’s Church of Broken Pieces. Church of Broken Pieces is a collection of vivid images by photographer Shawn Theodore, a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, video, and collage. Shawn’s images have been selected as the lead photograph for the second time by Apple’s Instagram page, Another image, “Being Black Outweighs One’s Blues,” was selected as the cover of the September 2016 issue of Smithsonian Magazines, which announced the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
The work embodies a defiant brand of black artistry. One that focuses on the fragmentation and manipulation of African American and African Diaspora identities and otherness, while exploring concepts of race, spirituality, patriarchy, matriarchy, and class structure within disappearing Black communities.
A self-identified street shooter, Theodore has always found his subjects in chance urban encounters; some of these interactions between strangers have evolved into sustained collaborations, the fruits of which are presented here. This constellation of relationships and the community it sustains, however fleeting, are at the core of Theodore’s work.
Drawn from the name of a church close to the artist’s childhood home, the title’s self-conscious invocation of biblical grandeur calls to mind the great titles of the Harlem Renaissance and the New Negro Movement. Theodore once asked a pastor friend about the origins of the phrase, who told him that “it had to do with the tradition of smaller churches breaking away from the larger ones to continue their service to the community,” he recalls. Like the church and its powerfully simple words, Theodore’s photographs conjure a transhistorical, transnational community mobilizing against erasure. They show us beauty as history, memory, resistance, and a way forward, shining the same wise light of the artist’s forebears and, little by little, opening out into new glories. 408 Marcus Garvey Blvd (347-663-8195, firstname.lastname@example.org) Through Nov 17.