Jennifer Mack-Watkins: "Children of the Sun: In Orbit:" May 5th - June 24th, 2023


Sat Jun 24 2023 at 05:00 pm


Sulfur Studios | Savannah, GA


“When you get into space, how do you navigate? You know, this world is hard to navigate, but if you go to space… What would you find? What would you collect? What would you see and how would you document your time there, before you came back to earth?”

– Jennifer Mack-Watkins, “Space is the Place,” IMPACT Arts + Culture Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 1

“I seek to provide a sense of assurance for all African American children and hope the work encourages imagination and aspiration… I hope to encourage children to enjoy childhood — while being aware of the injustices and challenges that lie ahead.”

– Jennifer Mack-Watkins, “Vermont Exhibit Spotlights the Promise of Black Youth, Past and Future,” VTDigger
On the occasion of Mack-Watkins’ Solo Exhibition at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center

The words above point toward Jennifer Mack-Watkins’ vision of the future for African American children – one that, however daunting, is as boundless as the reaches of space. A dedicated researcher and educator and celebrated artist, Mack-Watkins looks to the past and imbues her work with rich history in both content and process, spurred on in her bold explorations by the stories of those who came before. Combining screen printing with traditional Mokuhanga woodblock techniques, she explores both past and future, inspiring younger generations to do the same. Her work “celebrates, observes, and examines the beauty, importance, and complexities of the representation of African American children.”

"Children of the Sun: In Orbit" is an extension of Mack-Watkins’ "Children of the Sun" series, which explores the idea of children being the center of their own universes, allowing them to imagine their own futures without limitations. In this exhibition in the Main Gallery at Sulfur Studios from May 5th - June 24th, 2023, the work will be seen for the first time publicly since Mack-Watkins’ solo exhibition in 2021 at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Brattleboro, Vermont.

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About the Artist
Jennifer Mack-Watkins is a contemporary visual artist and illustrator whose artistic aesthetic draws from a confluence of reference points, most of which include her Japanese Mokuhanga printmaking techniques and her culturally rich Southern roots. Mack-Watkins’ work investigates societal conformities that isolate individuals to be confined to fit into a space. This space includes the complexities of being a woman, beauty images, relationships, body image, power, and gender roles.
Mack-Watkins holds a BA in Studio Arts from Morris Brown College, an MAT from Tufts University, and an MFA in Printmaking from Pratt Institute. She is on the Board of Trustees at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. Her work has been acquired at prominent institutions including The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Library of Congress, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Getty Archives, and she has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Vogue, and Essence. Mack-Watkins is a recipient of the 2022 National Black Arts Festival Fund, a Rush Arts Philanthropic 20th Anniversary Portfolio selected artist, and a featured artist at the 2022 Schomburg Center Literary Festival.

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Special Programming:

Receptions: Friday, May 5th and Friday, June 2nd, 5 - 9PM in conjunction with First Fridays in Starland

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Artist Talk: Jennifer Mack-Watkins & Trelani Michelle: Saturday, May 27th at 2PM

Trelani Michelle is an award-winning writer, oral historian, and teaching artist. Crowned Savannah’s Best Local Author in 2021, Trelani published a catalog of Black Savannah’s biographies called Krak Teet. She also co-authored the New York Times bestselling Gullah Geechee Home Cooking. A storyteller and a story-gatherer with a Bachelor’s from SSU and an MFA from SCAD, Trelani completed a 10-week internship with the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to further her work of “Zora Neale Hurstoning” and teaching the history that textbooks overlook. Editor for Black Art in America, Trelani combines storytelling and art to reposition Black history as the basis for the whole versus a historical sidebar. She’s presented her work at UNC’s Black Communities Conference, SCAD, Georgia Council for the Arts, The Highlander Research and Education Center, and more.

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Book Signing & Storytime: “You Gotta Meet Mr. Pierce: Saturday, June 10th at 2PM

About the Book: “You Gotta Meet Mr. Pierce”
A picture book biography about the barber shop of woodcarver Elijah Pierce, recipient of the highest folk art honor in the United States.
“Creeeeak!” goes the screen door to self-taught artist Elijah Pierce’s barbershop art studio. A young boy walks in for an ordinary haircut and walks out having discovered a lifetime of art. Mr. Pierce’s wood carvings are in every corner of the small studio. There are animals, scenes from his life, and those detailing the socio-political world around him. It’s this collection of work that will eventually win Elijah the National Heritage Fellowship in 1982 just two years before his death. But the young boy visiting the shop in the 1970s doesn’t know that yet. All he knows is: “You gotta meet Mr. Pierce!”

Based on the true story of Elijah Pierce and his community barber shop in Columbus, Ohio, this picture book includes cleverly collaged museum-sourced photos of his art and informative backmatter about his life. With engaging text by Pierce to the Soul! playwright Chiquita Mullins-Lee and Christopher Award-winning author Carmella Van Vleet, it’s illustrated with striking Japanese woodblock by Jennifer Mack-Watkins. A new addition to vital Black art history!
– Penguin Random House

Where is it happening?

Sulfur Studios, 2301 Bull St,Savannah,GA,United States

Event Location & Nearby Stays:

Sulfur Studios

Host or Publisher Sulfur Studios

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