Ragged Sanctuary: Black Lives Matter, COVID-19 and the Art of Hopeful Transcendence
May 2 - August 5, 2022
Engage with mixed-media artist, performer, and poet Deta Galloway’s immersive paintings. Experience musical recordings of songs created to accompany the art. Hear poetic musings to heal body and soul from past and present trauma.
About the Artist: Deta Galloway is a multi-media and multi-genre Boston-based artist who produces paintings, poems, and music that reflect her experience growing up in Jamaica, her work as a nurse and a healer, and her abiding faith in forces both seen and unseen.
“Ragged Sanctuary,” her first solo show at the Mary L. Fifield Art Gallery, features work that explores the darkness and trauma of the last two years while keeping an eye on the mystical strength and supernatural powers that surround us. “These are the forces that can help us. And you must become familiar with them and know that they will help us,” she says.
Many of Deta’s paintings are like portals – whole histories and narratives – and a form of visual storytelling and spiritual exploration. Given the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic and other events, “Ragged Sanctuary” functions as a place for healing – a place that, however battered and bruised and tattered, is a refuge and a home, as well as a place of power.
The show contains one of Deta’s shrines as well as multimedia presentations of her poetry and music. Her paintings reflect the evolution of her artistic practice to include iridescence as a medium – something that helps capture what she calls “the shimmering inside me.” This technique, she says, has helped her capture feelings of joy and light that persist despite the trauma of recent years.
Deta’s works have been featured nationally and internationally for nearly four decades, and she has been a warm and welcoming presence in previous BHCC exhibitions and events. Her live performances have been seen on festival stages, including the Indiana Women’s Music Festival, among others. Five of her watercolors were featured in a film on African American watercolors, 1866 to the present; these watercolors are now part of the Smithsonian’s collections.
Her works are in the holdings of the Danforth Art Museum, the Etheridge Knight Archives of Martin University, and the Northeastern University Archive, and have been collected by Kofi Kayiga, Taj Mahal, Arthur W. Clewes, Xavier Crenshaw, and Edmund Barry Gaither. She has exhibited at the Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University, the National Museum of Senegal, the Pao Arts Center in Boston’s Chinatown, Bunker Hill Community College, and the National Center for Afro-American Artists in Roxbury.
Her poems explore journeys, immigration, pandemics, and the strength of the natural world. She has been published in Stone Soup and other journals. A trip to Paris to attend the Bi-annual Conference of the Plastic Arts of the African Diaspora yielded an invitation to appear at the at the Sorbonne ‘s 100-year anniversary celebration of American poet Langston Hughes.
Deta Galloway was born in Kingston, Jamaica in the West Indies. She emigrated to America at age eighteen with an American husband. Upon his death, she was left widowed to raise a new daughter in a new homeland. She is educated in professional nursing, Human Services and Management, and specializes in Behavioral Nursing. She has lived and traveled in the U.S. South and lived for nearly two decades in Georgia before returning to the Boston area to reside.
Deta’s use of oils and acrylics was influenced by the paint mediums that her mother used in Jamaica. Her mother would boil plants to create a color, and she would add olive oil or other oils, and make what they called “inka” or a dye. Deta would mix lye and ashes from the fires and create whitewash. She drew with charcoal, only realizing later this was a medium one could buy. She also works in watercolors and began adding iridescence to her paintings a decade ago.
Deta began writing poetry at thirteen and has been published in several anthologies and journals. As a young mother and nurse, she met Gwendolyn Brooks, one of the most highly regarded, influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry and first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. Brooks encouraged Deta to do more readings of her work and to find a way to do less medicine and more poetry. “So even though I continued working to educate my daughter and make sure that she had some opportunities that in some ways I missed because of the early death of my very supportive husband and the transition of my career from wanting to become a psychiatrist to nursing, I held on very strongly to the art, no matter what,” Deta says.
ENGAGED! RESILIENT! GLOBAL! Selections from BHCC's Teaching and Learning Collection, with Faculty, Resident and Visiting Artists-
November 15, 2021 - February 26, 2022
A group exhibition that illuminates the power and importance of international education and global exchange. Experience art that connects cultures, crosses borders, and envisions a bold new future.
Featuring Roya Amigh, Robin Chandler, Julio Flores, Gillian Frazier, Deta Galloway, David Goldman, Maddu Huacuja, Renold Laurent, Alberto Lanzano, Yary Livan, Woomin Kim, Proshot Kalami, Jimmy Valdez Osaku, Consuelo Perez, and Wen-ti Tsen
Jimmy Valdez Osaku- Creative Exile
September 7, 2020 – April 23, 2021
The Creative Exile of Jimmy Valdez Osaku, at the Mary L. Fifield Art Gallery from September 7, 2020 to April 23, 2021, features the art and poetry of New York-based Jimmy Valdez Osaku in a powerful exploration of loss, loneliness, and endurance. Organized just as COVID-19 was shutting down the United States, the exhibition includes older works plus paintings and writings produced in response to the pandemic. Valdez’s art chronicles his journey, struggles as an immigrant, and suggests that we have all become exiles in a virus-plagued world.
According to poet, translator, and educator Rhina P. Espaillat, BHCC's 2019-2020 Distinguished Artist Scholar in Residence, “Jimmy’s work reflects the divided self straining to create its own autobiography, speaking to what it contains and is constantly aware of, but cannot unify.”
The full exhibition catalog contains a selection of the artist's poetry translated by Espaillat, as well as reflections from BHCC Faculty, the artist himself, and others.
Maddu Huacuja - Open the Way
October 10, 2019 – February 21, 2020
“Open the way” is Maddu Huacuja’s meditation on movement, life, migration and the journey of life to death, expressed in the paintings and drawings featured in this exhibition. Four paintings, three drawings, and three oil pastels comprise the presented trajectory of Huacuja’s engagement with the present and the transcendent and with the material and evanescent aspects of history and existence.
Huacuja’s path to this exhibition began with her lifelong exploration of her identity, as a Mexican-American, and her existence as a global citizen. As her life has unfolded, Huacuja has explored her mixed selves combined with her interest in diverse environments and in the animals and peoples who share our living space. One of her early interests was the Amazon jungle, with its rich and diverse life and its peoples, myths and iconic animal life. From her regard and research, she began, in the past ten years, to create a series of drawings and paintings within which she explores subjects and themes focused on her desire to capture that which is fleeting and vanishing in the Amazon. Yet, even as the jungle diminishes, its continuing life still retains its continuity and connections with Nature.
Within the world Huacuja has created, she follows a train of thought that links animals and people, who merge into one another in a continuing cycle of shared existence. Migration and movement have been a part of human existence since the first homo sapiens walked out of our ancestral home in Africa and began to wander and populate the world. Migrations caused by natural disasters, such as fire, flood, drought and the failure of land to produce abundant food define Latin America’s history in significant ways. From the abandoned cities of the Maya, the Aztec and the Moche, which became lost in time, when they could no longer sustain their peoples, to the more recent waves of migrants coming north to seek new places to live, the movement of people and animals in search of a sustainable life is part of Latin American identity.
This exhibition is an opportunity for spectators to stop and consider the subjects and themes she presents to the spectator in the works that spring from her desire to enable others to understand why what is happening to the helpless and unfortunate matters. Through the artist’s representation of the environments, animal species and humans being impacted by the forces that destroy their homes and lives, she enables her audience to commune with their plight and with her emotional response to their reality. In so doing, Huacuja leads her audience to its reception of her message, one which delineates this crucial moment in human history in which we currently find ourselves.
Open the Way
An exhibition of works that celebrate dignity and cultural wealth by dispelling the myths and misperceptions about migrants.
Things Left Unsaid: Women Artists Share Work about the Body, Memory and Pain
March 30 – December 18, 2020
Each piece in Things Left Unsaid represents an act of courage. The nine artists in this multimedia, multi-dimensional exhibit have made visible something that is often minimized, silenced or erased from a woman’s life – pain, sexual desire, illness, body image, faith, and the longing for a better life. Each work is a signature piece that confronts issues both historic and contemporary, both local and global. Some of these pieces are so deeply personal that viewers may feel as if they are being drawn into an intimate conversation with the artist. Others dwell on universal themes of memory, loss, and journeys into the unknown. Some of these pieces depict experiences that are difficult, even horrific, but the art is also suffused with the willingness to endure.
Interviews with several of the artists in this exhibition have been recorded, and may be used to enhance teaching and learning at the College. To view interviews or schedule a remote classroom visit with an artist from Things Left Unsaid, please contact Denise Turner in the Office of College Events and Cultural Planning at email@example.com.