The simple question of “Where are you from?” stumped Charlotte-based artist, software developer and comic book fanatic Jason Woodberry.
Woodberry said he was plagued with confusion, so he delved deep into ancestral tests and tried to uncover his roots. During this exploration, coupled with his interest with Henrietta Lacks, Woodberry said he came to the realization that “African Americans are one of the only minorities in America who don’t have a native language."
Ambiguity, identity crisis and uncertainty lie at the crux of the new exhibit at the Ackland Art Museum.
Ambiguity, identity crisis and uncertainty lie at the crux of the new exhibit at the Ackland Art Museum: Project LHAXX.
According to the Ackland's Project LHAXX press release, the exhibit features Afrofuturist hieroglyphics, spaceship schematics and augmented reality. Project LHAXX is a sci-fi, futuristic representation of the Black experience in today’s society.
The exhibit was created by a trio of artists, Marcus Kiser, Quentin Talley and Woodberry, who are known collectively as Intergalactic Soul. The essence of the group revolves around the idea of space, science fiction and political issues.
“Imagine civil rights wrapped into Star Wars," Woodberry said.
The exhibit consists of a mural spanning a wall, covered in bright neon hieroglyphics.
“(Intergalactic Soul’s) spirit towards the whole project, where it can be both lighthearted and serious was something that would be really refreshing to have (at the Ackland)," said Lauren Turner, assistant curator at the Ackland.
The majority of the hieroglyphic text in the exhibit originates from a Ghanian leader, who was deemed too unintelligent by his French colonizers to have a language, only for him to respond by creating his own language and spreading it to his people.
“I handpicked the hieroglyphics from the languages that were in my ancestry, most of them were dead languages," Woodberry said.
Next to the mural is a monitor, displaying a spaceship, furthering the space exploration and sci-fi motifs found throughout the exhibit.
Unveiled at the Ackland on Aug. 14, the exhibit is set up to work with the returning ART& space.
The ART& space is devoted to creating a space for experiencing art with the community alongside the artists. Turner said that the interactive space has allowed for the exhibit to be admired for not only its visual beauty, but also for its profound social commentary.
Turner said he believes the ART& space unlocks the full potential of the LHAXX exhibit, because it is so layered with research and meaning.
“Talking about the issues involved, (visitors) just become so impressed when they realize how explicitly (the exhibit) is engaging with contemporary (issues)," Turner said.
Woodberry said the core of the piece delves further than ancestry and lineages.
“The challenge of all of this, is—to the viewer—can you appreciate and connect with something that you don’t understand?” Woodberry said.
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