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Berkeley Art Center's Agility Projects presents:

March 19 – May 8, 2016
Opening reception: Saturday, March 19, 6 - 8 pm

This exhibition is generously supported by the City of Berkeley and the Zellerbach Family Foundation.

As part of BAC’s Agility Projects, Rodney Ewing and Jamil Hellu will present new work from distinct projects that explore how we determine our relationships to cultural histories and personal experiences. How do we reconcile who we really are with how we have been perceived? How do we articulate our own identity within generations of histories?

In Fact & Fiction, Ewing begins with a background of rushing paint and color, using fiction-based literature to expand on the narratives of actual individuals whose stories have been overlooked or taken for granted. These classic tales of the imagination are tools that frame these individuals as human beings who may have been forced into events that we would all find challenging. In his second series Cloud JarEwing makes reference to the role of water as an agent of change in the African diaspora and calls attention to recent events in Flint, Michigan.

In Present Tense, Jamil Hellu is looking for ways to voice his despair over violence in the Middle East. He started to produce works claiming his Arab roots. Hellu’s father’s family is from Syria. This body of work was first conceived after Hellu saw news footage of blindfolded Syrian men being thrown from high buildings by ISIS because of their perceived sexual orientation. The project explores the artist’s identity in relation to his Syrian heritage and Arab ethnicity. It is a conceptual investigation of the frictions that emerge at the intersection of Middle-Eastern lineage and queerness. Through performance, the work juxtaposes moving and still images creating a contemporary discourse about the implications of cultural background.

Through painting, photography, installation and video, both Ewing and Hellu have created visually arresting bodies of work that serve as both intimate portraits of their individual experiences and their relationships to the cultural identities from which they emerged.

In addition to the exhibition, the artists will be in conversation with Rhiannon Evans MacFadyen on Thursday, April 14 at 6 pm. MacFadyen is a curator, consultant, and project-based artist with over fifteen years of in-depth experience in the performing and visual arts. In 2013 she founded
A Simple Collective: an organization dedicated to fostering creative independence for professionals, and professional independence for creatives, and ASC Projects: an experimental project space in the Mission.