The Mattress Factory is proud to partner with artist and filmmaker Shikeith to launch a video series featuring collaborators who contributed to his exhibition Feeling The Spirit In The Dark, currently on view in the Museum’s Monterey Annex. Scheduled performers include Rashad McPherson, Trapcry and Corey Staggers.
The role of music within Feeling The Spirit In The Dark serves to immerse audiences within the histories of Black people across time and space. Be it gospel, the blues or hip-hop, music has served as a beacon of rich expression within Black culture. The performers in this series have deeply moved me with their talents and inspired much of the exhibition's sonic pathways. - Shikeith
Feeling The Spirit In The Dark is an assemblage of wonder and personal truths that focus on the metamorphoses of Black men, especially within a society that denies these men their erotic and reconciliatory potential. His work seeks to consider the interior, both his own, as well as, other Black men through emphasizing photography, sculpture, and filmmaking to examine the fantastic as it relates and complicates personal autobiography and self-making. When asked about his artistic practice, the artist emphasizes, “I aim to make artwork that moves beyond a focus on the bodies of black men but into the deepness of our psyches where identities are formed and black manhood can be imagined as an indeterminate and unfixed space.”
The exhibition title is inspired by Aretha Franklin’s song "Spirit in the Dark" from her 1970 album with the same name and “Feeling the Spirit in the Dark: Expanding Notions of the Sacred in the African-American Gay Community” by E. Patrick Johnson. In his essay, Johnson wrote that Franklin’s music “blurs the boundaries between the sacred and the secular – both through its lyrics and musical composition.”
Other videos in the series will be released on January 21 (this date will be hosted by the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics and the August Wilson House and requires registration at https://www.crowdcast.io/e/piihqelp/register), and February 11, 2021. The four-part video series began on Thursday, December 10 with a performance that featured gospel act Rashad McPherson activating the installation with a medley of original songs from his new album Forward. Watch the performance on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter.
Shikeith was born in 1989 in Philadelphia, PA, and currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA. He received his MFA in Sculpture from The Yale School of Art, after earning his BA in Integrative Arts from The Pennsylvania State University. His work investigates the experiences of black men within and around concepts of psychic space. His work has recently been featured in institutional solo exhibitions, including the Alexander Brest Museum & Gallery, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL; Locust Projects, Miami, FL; Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA; and The Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art, Pittsburgh, PA. In 2019, Shikeith received a Painters & Sculptors Grant from The Joan Mitchell Foundation. This year he was awarded the 2020 Art Matters Foundation Grant and was selected for the 2020 – 2021 Leslie Lohman Museum Artist Fellowship.
ABOUT COREY STAGGERS
New Haven, CT, saxophonist and producer Corey Staggers mixes improvisation with some of pop culture’s most well-known songs. Staggers will be releasing multiple projects in 2021 with jazz, hip hop, instrumental and all-around good vibes.