THE PLATFORM GALLERY: Calida Rawles

This season’s Platform Gallery installation, the eighth in the public project series, features three recently…
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Location
The Delaware Contemporary
Date
Sat, July 20
Time
12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Event Details

Date
Saturday, July 20
Time
12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Upcoming Event Dates

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Location

The Delaware Contemporary
200 S. Madison St.,
Wilmington, DE 19801

Event Type

Event Website

Description

This season’s Platform Gallery installation, the eighth in the public project series, features three recently completed works by internationally recognized painter Calida Garcia Rawles that constellate her signature motifs. Born in Wilmington and based in Los Angeles, this is the artist’s first ever exhibition in her hometown. Wilmington looms large in Rawles’ origin story. She sold her first drawings to her elementary school classmates for quarters, and the neighborhood pool is where she learned about Black people’s fraught relationships with water—from the Middle Passage to Jim Crow segregation to the ability to swim. Known for poetic, ethereal renderings of Black figures suspended in water, the artist uses bodily gesture and soft yet vibrant colors to counter the ways in which Black subjects are rarely afforded innocence, rest, vulnerability, and leisure. Often dressed in solid-colored garments that fold and billow in response to water’s force and movement, her figures flourish in imperceptible moments of submersion and release.

Beyond water’s vitality, Rawles’ choices in color, pose, and environment are connected to her interests in broader questions of race and representation within art history and everyday life. Painting is deeply personal for the artist. Each artwork is based on a photograph, or series of photographs, that the artist takes herself. Various shades of white and blue have been the cornerstones of her color palette to date, representing virtue, purity, and formlessness—metaphors for Black freedom and liberation. Gesture is just as expressive as color here. Her figures float, buoy themselves, swim, and break the surface of the water. Sometimes ripples and bubbles obscure her subjects’ faces, camouflaging and hiding their identities and actions.

The three works on view at the Platform Gallery feature members of Rawles’ immediate family and cultural signifiers that punctuate formidable moments in the artist’s life. The first work, Requiem for My Navigator, depicts her husband — her north star — in close-up and in profile as he holds his head under water with eyes closed, and the second and third works bookend a recent turning point for Rawles.

Thy Name We Praise (titled after the first line from The Spelman Hymn, the official song for Spelman College in Atlanta where the artist completed her undergraduate studies in art) portrays a woman in a white flowy dress, and is the last of Rawles’ white dress portraits. The figure’s arms extend in a gesture of surrender. The blue and white colors, the dress, and the woman’s pose—a unique take on crucifixion iconography—express the religious culture that Rawles encountered in college. Per tradition, Spelman students wear white clothing to chapel, to homecoming, to convocation, and other major events on campus. The school’s colors are also blue and white. Although she was not raised in a religious household, spirituality and a connection to a larger force beyond herself are now central to her painting practice. Thy Name We Praise pays homage to the artist’s past and is a portal for new explorations.

Her latest work features her youngest daughter as its subject. With Wings of Infinity vibrates with lush reds and purples, a shift for the artist. As Rawles embraces abstraction more and more, dark water and shadows, rather than bright greens and blues, also recur in her most recent paintings. The three large-scale works on view at the Platform Gallery showcase the artist’s range and new turns in her painting practice—a full circle homecoming for Rawles.

Curated by Tiffany Barber, TDC Curator-in-Residence

Map

Nearby

Parking

Willing Street,
Wilmington, DE
0.46 miles
815 Justison Street,
Wilmington, DE 19801
0.52 miles

Food & Drink

313 S. Justison Street,
Wilmington, DE 19801
0.1 miles
321 Justison St,
Wilmington, DE 19801
0.11 miles
329 Justison Street,
Wilmington, DE 19801
0.14 miles
321 Justison St ,
Wilmington, DE 19801
0.15 miles
400 Justison Street,
Wilmington, DE 19801
0.18 miles
110 South West Street,
Wilmington, DE 19801
0.18 miles

Hotels

815 Justison Street,
Wilmington, DE 19801
0.52 miles
700 King St.,
Wilmington, DE 19801
0.7 miles
422 Delaware Avenue,
Wilmington, DE 19801
0.79 miles
1007 North Orange Street,
Wilmington, DE 19801
0.83 miles