The William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund presents: The Rise and Fail of the N-Word: Implicit Bias and the N-Word Living in our Subconscious by Rhinold Ponder, at Kehler Liddell Gallery (873 Whalley Avenue), February 15th – March 18th, 2018.
The Rise and Fail of the N-Word, by New Jersey based artist Rhinold Ponder, challenges the lack of a common language in our efforts to understand and communicate across perspectives about racism. This provocative exhibition contains work created by Ponder himself, as well as work commissioned by Ponder that includes a series of “N-Word Logos” created by artists worldwide. The exhibition seeks to engage viewers in an emotional and often redemptive dialogue.
“In my artwork, I try to offer the viewer a narrative about race, and the issue of racism, which is one of the most important discussions we need to have in this country, but also one of the most difficult,” says Ponder. “I’m not there to tell [viewers] what to think … the work is there to help them think.”
This exhibition is brought to New Haven by the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund (WCGMF), marking a new venture for WCGMF to work with art and artists to create opportunities for discussion around race and poverty in our society.
“The ‘N’ Word is intrinsically embedded in the implicit bias that affects people who are charged with the success of children of color in our community,” says Executive Director David Addams.
The exhibition opened with a reception and discussion between the artist and Enroue Halfkenny to a full house of over 100 attendees. The conversation continues with two concluding events. On March 15th, Hanifa Nayo Washington will facilitate a special Literary Happy Hour – a radically inclusive reading and performance series featuring diverse New Haven artists. This event will feature three artists: J-Sun, Z Bell and Mooncha. Following the performance, poets, singers and writers are invited to participate in an open mic. Then on March 17th, Enroue Halfkenny will facilitate a concluding conversation and roundtable discussion with the artist, providing an opportunity for those who have viewed the exhibition to gather, discuss and reflect. Both events are free and open to the public, though reservations are required (see links below).
Exhibition Events and Programs:
- Opening Reception & Discussion with the Artist: Wednesday, February 21st, 6:00pm-9:00pm. Discussion with the artist moderated by Enroue Halfkenny at 7:30pm. Free and open to all. Reservations required: http://bit.ly/2rgUGiD
- Spoken Word Performance & Discussion Hosted by Literary Happy Hour: Thursday, March 15th, 6:30pm-8:30pm. Literary Happy Hour is a radically inclusive reading and performance series featuring diverse New Haven writers curated and hosted by Hanifa Nayo Washington. Reservations recommended: http://bit.ly/2rd2FgC
- Exhibition Conclusion: Roundtable Discussion: Saturday, March 17th, 6:00pm-9:00pm. Free and open to all those who have visited the exhibition. Facilitated by Enroue Halfkenny. Reservations required: http://bit.ly/2Bb4DOl
Rhinold Ponder is a mixed-media artist from Princeton, New Jersey. He began his artistic journey as an award-winning winning artist in Chicago, where he majored in commercial art at a vocational high school, before obtaining advanced degrees in law, journalism, and African American studies. Much of Ponder’s work reflects his love of explosive colorful abstract and expressionist art with a focus on humanity’s faith and will to overcome adversity. He is largely interested in expressions of hope and faith as unifying elements in a diverse society. His work has been exhibited worldwide. For more information, visit: www.ponderart.com.
William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund’s mission is to achieve equity in education by working with those affected and inspiring all to end racism and poverty. For more information, visit: http://www.wcgmf.org.
Enroue Halfkenny Enroue Halfkenny is a U.S. born, multiracial, black, cisgendered, heterosexual male of African, Irish, Swedish, Mi’kmaq and Cherokee descent. He is an Awo (priest of Ifa) within the traditional Yoruba religion from West Africa, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is an Artist and a Healing Justice Activist. Through his consulting, healing and private psychotherapy practice, Healing and Liberation Counseling, he addresses emotional, mental, societal, physical and spiritual wellbeing issues for individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations.
Literary Happy Hour is a curated reading and performance series providing a platform for New Haven writers to present their work, build a local following, and form a supportive, collaborative writing community. This event unites the strongest writers from disconnected corners of the New Haven community--including creative writing students, open mic performers, and independent writers--with an emphasis on writers of color and other writers belonging to marginalized groups. Literary Happy Hour creates a radically inclusive performance space and creative community that gives rise to healing, liberation, deepening of self and genuine community building.
Hanifa Nayo Washington is a cultural activist who views her creativity as radical medicine for the heart and uses it as a tool for liberation, healing, and community building. Hanifa has been the curator for Literary Happy since 2016. Learn more at www.handsofhanifa.com.
J-Sun is a Slam Poet/Playwright/Activist/Author and a 2002 CT National Poetry Slam Poet. He has facilitated poetry workshops across the region from community centers to Riker's Island Jail in New York. His emphasis is on arts and activism with a belief that we all need a voice because we all have something to say. His poetic style is vibrant, awakening, and sometimes shocking, speaking to real life situations.
Z Bell (pronouns they/them) believes in the power of redefinition, visioning and poetry as a means towards self-love, community care and liberation. They are an organizer, radical political education trainer and poet. Z has written, designed and released 4 zines of poetry, all of which can be found at ZBellPoetry.com.
Mooncha is New Haven’s answer to the alternative R&B sound becoming ubiquitous in today’s music, from fast-rising artists like The Internet to relative unknowns trending now on Spotify playlists. Nonetheless, only this artist offers a distinctive space-themed twist, an unwillingness to shy away from the political, and a fresh, DIY approach to music and art. Her self-produced art is short, satisfying, and spacey, managing to somehow be atmospheric and danceable, psychedelic and sincere. Find Mooncha on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud etc.