When the first Friday of the month comes around, many local folks might feel it is just another occasion to celebrate the arrival of the weekend as we engage in time-tested and community-edifying activities like packing a local pub with friends or preparing a tasty meal at home to welcome one’s chosen family to the table. There are really no shortages of how we celebrate locally the first Friday of the month.
But for our arts community, when we hear First Friday, they think of the decades-long and on-going event held on Division Avenue (south of Fulton) as the creatives and businesses open their doors to welcome the public at the First Friday gallery walk.
Since this is also Black History Month, one has an added reason to visit this neighborhood’s anchor institution, UICA, because their Feb. 7 First Friday event is about more than just observing as the public is invited to take part in their Drop-In Studio Night
- an ongoing series held at the popular contemporary arts center.
For this hands-on event, UICA is encouraging us to visit its latest exhibition, Translating Valence, on Friday night and to center our focus on the work of one artist in this collection of artists: Devan Shimoyama.
UICA’s Exhibition Curator Juana Williams writes, “Translating Valence
propagates ideas regarding black masculinity that lie in conjunction with, and opposition to, widely held historical and stereotypical beliefs. The title references the psychological theory of emotional valence, which generally refers to values expressed in reference to stimuli, ranging from attractive to aversive. While commonly not discussed regarding individuals, it can be argued that stereotypes about black males create negative valence. Although valence is said to be intrinsic, the idea of questioning the relevance and objective nature of valence is at play in this exhibition.”
Shimoyama’s work is very powerful and truly a centerpiece within this exhibition due to William’s placement in the gallery. His work begins a detangling in the mind of all who visit to see his work and of all the artists of “Translating Valence,” which includes artists Stephen Arboite, Scott Campbell, Nate Lewis, Patrick Quarm, and Joshua Solas.
After visiting the exhibition, guests are invited to visit The Studio on the fourth floor to leverage your own inspiration from Shimoyama’s work as you work alongside others creating an artwork that can be taken home after. Even the shy or unschooled artist-in-you will be made to feel at home as these studio activities are led by UICA’s staff and volunteers. All ages and definitions of family are welcome here.
You have a lot of choices on Friday night, but only one in the area is able to seamlessly bridge Black History Month to an art experience as UICA has done with this powerful Translating Valence exhibition. For those seeking to dive deeper into this exhibition, docent-led tours are offered at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.