Student Works Gallery Presents Mixed-Media Exhibition “HER-Stories: Visual Narrative of Women of the African Diaspora”

By Tom McLaughlin

The Student Works Gallery at Rutgers University–Camden will showcase powerful mixed-media images by Rutgers–Camden alumna Lavett Ballard as it presents “HER-Stories: Visual Narrative of Women of the African Diaspora.”

The exhibition, which is free of charge and open to the public, will run from Monday, Feb. 10 to Friday, March 13.

Tar Baby

Ballard, a 2014 graduate of Rutgers–Camden’s College of Arts and Sciences, will give a brief talk on her work in the gallery at 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, followed by a reception for the artist from 5 to 7 p.m.

An artist, art historian, curator, and author, Ballard views her art as a reimagined visual narrative of people of African descent. Her use of imagery reflects social issues affecting primarily Black women’s stories within a historical context.

Her current body of work uses collaged photos adorned with paint, oil pastels, and metallic foils. These photos are deconstructed and layered on large and small reclaimed, aged-wood fences – symbolic references to how fences keep people in and out physically, just as racial and gender identities can do the same socially. The fusion of wood and photography offers artwork that both explores her Southern roots and visually speaks to continuing themes within her community.

Lavette B. Photo credit: Jonathan Joaquin

Ballard earned dual bachelor’s degrees in studio art and art history with a minor in museum studies from Rutgers–Camden, and an M.F.A. in studio art from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her art has been included in literary, film, and theater productions, as well as exhibitions nationwide.

She has been named by Black Art in America as one of the Top 10 Female Emerging Artists to Collect and has been nominated for the inaugural Art for Social Change Pew Foundation-funded residency. Her work has been acquired by prominent collections such as the Smithsonian, the African American Museum of Philadelphia, the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center, the Weeksville Heritage Center, the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, and the Grant and Tamia Hill private collection.

The Student Works Gallery is a Department of Visual, Media, and Performing Arts student-curated and administered space. The mission of the gallery is to bring diverse contemporary exhibitions and cultural programs created by students, alumni, faculty, and invited artists to the university community.

The gallery is dedicated to the intellectual and artistic life of the university, and the engagement of the community at large. It provides the opportunity to interact with artists and artistic projects by featuring exhibits and programs of regional, national, and international importance.

Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and closed on campus holidays.

For more information on the exhibition or gallery, contact Bruce Garrity at bgarrity@camden.rutgers.edu.

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