Recently in Fort Lauderdale, Niki Lopez along with 1310 Gallery hosted the “What's Your Elephant?” Artist Talk/Open Mic. This is the tenth installment in the WYE series.
Ever since the opening show in August, people from the community have been anxiously waiting for the artist talk. As guests walked around and viewed the art, they had the opportunity to take photos and fully dissect each individual piece. While the night got started, there were sounds of Fela Kuti and Erykah Badu gracefully oozing from the speakers. Along with the music guests were treated to adult beverages, cake, and delectable food from Taco Genius of Fort Lauderdale.
"This year is probably the most artists I've had in the WYE exhibition, this time we had 18 artists," shared Niki Lopez right before the artist talk portion of the night.
"The theme is that it has to be an ‘elephant in the room’ topic, it can be personal, it can be some related to religion, or it can be political. A lot of shows you go to it’s mainly about the aesthetics of the arts, but this exhibition is meant for the artist to share this space and talk about their art.”
WYE produced some amazing pieces that were thought provokingly brilliant yet inspirational. One piece in particular “Trading Places” sparked a lot of conversation. It was created by mixed media artist Adewale Adenle. “Trading Places” interrogates the subconscious effect and invasiveness of our affiliations to the political parties while elucidating the concerns of George Washington. The work of art depicts a donkey and an elephant looking out of a window. What makes this creation unique is his choice of medium. Adewale used oil and acrylic, in addition to using deconstructed wood layers.
Shortly after the artist talk was completed, the open mic session commenced. Creative Rebel Alana DaCosta from Kr8tive Uprising hosted. Those that attended were treated to several special performances from poets like Mark these Words and Ari Safari. Both poets delivered their poems with finesse and touched on themes of redemption, racial injustice, and self-love. Singing trio Wild Tree changed the whole vibe of the event with their original jam "A Woman's Worth.” The crowd wasn't the only one swaying to their music: famous reggae artist Annette Brisette also was seen dancing to their rich vocals and tight harmonies. One of the standout moments came when the Kr8tive Uprising performed a dance accompanied by dancers and drummers. DaCosta even flexed her impressive vocals during the soul stirring performance.
Lesbian painter Teepop featured two pieces at the show.
SFGN had the opportunity to chat with her during the exhibition.
Hey Teepop, where are you from?
I was born in Pittsburgh, PA , currently living in North Miami, FL.
How long have you been an artist?
Ever since I was 5 years old, so for a very, very long time.
You mentioned during the artist talk that there are not a lot of places where you can showcase some of your more controversial pieces. Tell me a little about it. How did it feel to showcase your work for the “What's Your Elephant” exhibition?
I loved showing in “What’s Your Elephant?” It was great to be a part of such a strong & thought-provoking exhibit. This art show allows for the “thinking artist” or the “political artist” to express themselves without censorship. I feel some of the more mainstream galleries at least in my opinion stifle creative thinking because they are really there to make money and not to get entangled in more thought-provoking artwork. It was my first time showing in “What’s Your Elephant?” and it was an honor to be on the roster.
What inspired your two pieces?
My two pieces that were recently on view at the “What’s Your Elephant?” art show were inspired by gun violence and the execution of black lives. It’s a mix of two things plaguing our country. One being black and having to always look over your shoulder. The second, gun violence and mass shootings. The innocence of innocent lives being taken by others. All lives matter, and most people don’t want to talk about it until after something happens.
“I want to grow up” is inspired by my godson “RJ” who is only seven years old. He exudes such a loving, positive and empowering energy in this piece that it’s too sad to think that this little boy is unaware to himself that he is and could be a threat to someone just by being black.
“Assault on Innocence” was started four years ago as a protest support piece for Venezuela that then turned into an anti-gun violence piece. It’s been a “work in progress” over the last few years.
I started incorporating names of victims, countries, cities etc. who have been affected by gun violence. For example, I included all of the names of the victims from the Orlando Pulse shooting. That mass shooting hit home for me. Not that I personally knew any of the victims but being a part of the LGBTQ community myself it impacted me. My partner and I were at a Pride event in Fort Lauderdale that same exact night and when we got home and saw the news it shook us to our core cause all we could think of was, “what if, what if it happened where we were?” I also included all of the names from the most recent mass shooting at Parkland in the painting too.
I hope by viewing this piece and taking in the magnitude of all the people who have been killed we try not to be so numb and matter of fact about it. You have to really look at this painting in every section, every corner, to see all that I included and feel it wholeheartedly.
For more information on how you can participate in the next "What’s Your Elephant?" exhibition, visit Nikiartstudio.com/whats-your-elephant.