January 11 through February 21, 2010
Stewart Center Gallery
Presented in collaboration with Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette and the Purdue Black Cultural Center, Purdue Galleries presents an exhibition of paintings that respond to the contemporary challenges facing minorities in the United States. In the context of the Langston Hughes’ poem “A Dream Deferred” and Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun, Patrick Earl Hammie (Champaign, Illinois) explores the tension between power and vulnerability as he re-imagines the modern male. Drawing from his history as a son, a male and an African American, Hammie’s portraits symbolize his shadow-selves and visualize the effort to reconcile inner duality and transcend typical masculine ideals.
Hammie says, “Inspiration and intention in these works stem from the continued visible acts of aggression, forcible colonization and relocation, discrimination, xenophobia, sexism and war seen throughout the world and at home. These masculine traits are present and thrive through all ethnicities, sexes and social classes and sit at the core of these and many debated issues. One perpetuation of this conduct is the image of the hyper masculine black male that valorizes behaviors such as strength, power, dominance and control, many times to the degradation of women. Artists in the 1960s and 70s channeled Harlem Renaissance artists and writers such as Langston Hughes to present the world with images of contemporary African Americans that were confident, iconic, and complex. These artists were confronting the deferred dreams of minority artists before them while challenging the status quo. Forty years later, we still see the effects of these masculine traits and search for personal and collective identity. I enter this conversation to keep a light on the roots of these effects, and share a personal effort to transcend these traits and re-imagine a new balance.”
The conflicts with oneself, one’s community and one’s family present in “A Raisin in the Sun” are represented in the struggles of the monumental figures in Hammie’s work. In this exhibit, he presents his paintings as platforms from which to invite discussion surrounding the principles and stances that help and hinder the journey towards one’s aspirations and identity.