Exhibit portrays shifting landscape of ethnic heritage

Neha Aziz

DiverseArts Culture Works’ New East Gallery is tucked away in the Saltillo Lofts on East Fifth Street. DiverseArts is a nonprofit organization that focuses on promoting multicultural art in Austin. The gallery relies on donations from businesses and patrons for its operations.

What began as the DiverseArts Little Gallery Exhibition Series in 1993 was reborn as the New East Gallery in 2007, and this year marks the 10th anniversary of the series. This year, the New East Gallery is home to a unique exhibit entitled “Fresh Black Paint 2010: Tightrope Realities.”

“Our focus is on developing, establishing, and providing programming content in [Austin’s East End Cultural Heritage District],” said Harold McMillan, founder and director of DiverseArts. “It began, and continues, as a project to give wall space, due attention and exposure to established and emerging African-American visual artists in Central Texas and Austin.”

The exhibit features newcomers as well as veteran artists, such as Ketu’Rah Glore. Her artwork takes many forms — some are on canvas while others are showcased in boxes. Another veteran artist, Nailah I. Akinyémi-Sankofa, took a 3-D approach with her art, although it was not necessarily culturally relevant to the exhibit.

One thing is certain: The artwork showcased is of an eclectic taste. The works “Wrath” and “Envy” by Glore were done in a similar style, with the faces contorted and the eyes, empty. These two pieces are on a more abstract level in comparison to her other pieces. Another work, titled “Spirit Locks,” is more playful and lighthearted. It displays a wig of dreadlocks attached to the Jamaican flag to represent her ties to the country. Glore describes her style to be “an ethnic abstract” and universally accepted mixed media.

“I have been creating my own reflection of reality since I was a child,” Glore says on her Facebook page. “I am gifted and blessed with the talent to express myself visually and artistically — Surreal Abstract. My paintings are inspired by life and the experiences it has shown me. I have my own style, concept and interpretation of abstract art that I hope everyone can relate to and enjoy.”