Queenship: Angela Hennessy @ pt.2 Gallery, Oakland
pt.2 Gallery is pleased to present Queenship, a solo exhibition of new work by Angela Hennessy. For her first solo exhibition with the gallery, she explores the implications of abstraction for black and queer identities. Between the lustre of deep black hair and the shimmer of gold twist tie wire, Angela Hennessy’s sculptures beckon complete sensory attention of the viewer. While the desire to touch must be quelled, the urge to see from afar and up close, and to interrogate the nature and consequence of her creations provides a formidable space for reflection.
Hennessy continues her practice of crocheting and twisting hair to create a series of sculptures and wall-mounted hangings in grids of black and gold. While the image of the grid can refer to many structural elements of control and power, Hennessy’s influence for this design comes from an unexpected source - flags used as maritime distress signals. A ship calls out distress by flying the grid flag with the striped flag (N over C). This subtle illusion links Hennessy’s new patterns to her larger investigation of grief and loss, reminding us how textiles function as meditations on the space between mourning and making, and between life and death.
Hennessy’s sculptures provoke a unique foray into the realm of abstraction, offering a space of rest, calm and surrender. Black hair does not fit into the traditional eurocentric narrative of contemporary aesthetics and abstraction, one of purity in materials such as paint, wood and plastics. Hennessy thus challenges this hierarchy by employing a material that is indicative of self-care and adornment, simultaneously portraying the joy, survival, resistance specific to black women. As such, her meditations invite a reinterpretation of abstraction, both in its practice and history, to be in dialogue with black culture.
Angela Hennessy is an Oakland based artist and Associate Professor at California College of the Arts where teaches courses on visual and cultural narratives of death and textile theory. Through writing, studio work, and performance, her practice questions assumptions about Death and the Dead themselves. She uses a spectrum of color and other phenomena of light to expose mythologies of identity. Ephemeral and celestial forms constructed with every day gestures of domestic labor—washing, wrapping, stitching, weaving, brushing, and braiding. In 2015, she survived a gunshot wound while interrupting a violent assault on the street in front of her house. Alternating between poem, prayer, and call to action, her manifesto, The School of the Dead, was written in the following months of recovery.