Questions and Answers: The Self Liberated Fine Art Exhibition by EuGene V. Byrd III was in the spirit of Juneteenth. created

0



Self-exempt art exhibition

Photo courtesy of EuGene V. Boyd III

EuGene V. Byrd III has curated art exhibitions for decades. He remembers his first curated exhibition, Step into the Byrd Nest, in the 1990s, and since then he has curated more than 20 shows over the course of his career as an artist. Born in Wichita, Kansas, he graduated from SCAD in 2002 and then worked as the creative director for Fortune 500 companies. It was not until 2016 that he abandoned his faith and decided to pursue his art career fully.

EuGene V. Boyd III
EuGene V. Boyd III

Photo courtesy of EuGene V. Boyd III

This year, Byrd opened his own art exhibition in honor of Juneteenth Only went into effect as a federal holiday this week. The self-exempt art exhibition can be seen this Saturday (June 19) and next (June 26) from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the TCP Footlocker Gallery at 1420 Moreland Avenue Southeast and shows works of art by Byrd, Fabian Williams, Marryam Moma, George F. Baker III, Tracy Murrell and many more. We spoke to Byrd to learn more about the exhibition and his vision. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How does your exhibition tie in with Juneteenth?
The exhibition stands in the sense of the Juneteenth, whereby the Juneteenth is also called the Day of Freedom and Day of Liberation. I focused on the liberation part. I wanted to celebrate the pressure that enslaved blacks were putting on the country to free themselves. That’s what I wanted to focus on somehow – our contributions to our freedom and the exhibition appeals to the artists and the show. The artists who are like that are positioned, liberated in their careers, in their lives and somehow on their own terms – they operate outside of the traditional gallery system and are just self-liberated people.

Self-exempt art exhibition
Self-exempt art exhibition

Photo courtesy of EuGene V. Boyd III

Self-exempt art exhibition
Self-exempt art exhibition

Photo courtesy of EuGene V. Boyd III

Why did you choose to curate this particular show?
Well, I definitely just wanted to have an art exhibition, period because when the world paused in 2020, the art world took a hiatus [with it]. I was just ready to have an audience in front of the art because I felt like I was painting a lot in 2020, but the pictures come to life when the audience is in front of it. I know a lot of artists on the show who thought similarly. Even by 2020 there was just so much racial injustice. This is really the first time I’ve done an all black artist show. I really wanted to show what we can do on our own in our own community.

You’ve been in Atlanta for some time; What changes have you seen in the art scene over the years?
Art in general is a little more valued by developers, companies and city administrations. You begin to see the value of art. That’s a good thing – there are a lot more opportunities for public art projects and the like than when I first came to the A in 1996. I think that happens in Atlanta, but I also think that this is running around a bit across the country. People are starting to see how art and culture can actually add value to property, and art also enables healthy, uncomfortable conversation and dialogue, and I think people are starting to see that.

Self-exempt art exhibition
Self-exempt art exhibition

Photo courtesy of EuGene V. Boyd III

What have been some of the difficulties you have faced as a black artist in your career?
It’s a struggle for artists in general, and I think overall, white artists have some of the same struggles that we have because a lot of times people don’t appreciate everything [art]. But if you’re a black artist it’s doubly because our black-run facilities don’t get the right funding. It is almost impossible as a black gallery owner or a black art organization to get funding without a separatist philosophy. Usually only black organizations get paid for taking this all black approach that I never took, so I never really got paid. I didn’t want to be a separatist because I’ve always believed that we shouldn’t be doing that in the art scene. The art scene should be more open-minded and open to everyone.

What advice can you give budding artists and curators?
I believe in studying your craft. Don’t worry about monetizing your skills until your skills reach a certain point of mastery. You absolutely need to network. Atlanta is a city with open arms, but it’s small enough that Atlanta knows the people who support other people’s shows. So if you want to get into the Atlanta arts scene you have to show up, you have to let people know who you are. Sure, artists say it out loud. Many organizations in Atlanta, especially when it comes to black organizations, are grassroots organizations, so volunteer opportunities are numerous.

What’s next for you
Well, I’ve been focusing on our collective internet artists for years, which I will continue to do, but I’m starting to switch a little. I had to close my gallery in 2020 [so I’m] change things to focus on Eugene Byrd Productions and become more visible myself and put my name first. Eugene Byrd Productions will practice art advocacy, art leasing, and art consulting. I have a sponsored partnership with Maker’s Mark. And just keep pushing the needle, keep giving opportunities and bringing arts and culture to underserved areas.



Share.

Leave A Reply