Tell Me a Story And I'll Sing You a Song

Tell Me a Story And I’ll Sing You a Song


April 6 - May 4, 2019
Opening: April 6, 2019, 6-9pm

Charlie James Gallery
969 Chung King Road
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Charlie James Gallery is pleased to present Tell Me a Story And I’ll Sing You a Song, a group exhibition curated by Bianca Moran, with works by Yasmine Diaz, Ramiro Gomez, David Huffman, Dulce Soledad Ibarra, Vincent Miranda, Star Montana, Chinwe Okona, noé olivas, Umar Rashid and Savannah Wood.

This exhibition showcases a group of artists whose practices are invested in the exploration of narrative and the ways in which the personal intersects with and complicates the historical record. Through painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, and installation, these artists explore the nuance and tension that exists between personal histories and dominant historical narratives. There is in each piece the element of juxtaposition that puts forth a reconsideration of context and content, material and meaning. As such, each work is a gesture towards the formation of a visual language that can be read as annotations to the histories that have been built around and through but not from.

These images were taken while conducting research in the Afro-American Newspapers’ archives. The AFRO was founded in 1892 by my great-great-grandfather John H. Murphy, Sr. and is still in operation today. The work included in this show challenges the presumed objectivity of newspapers in general, highlighting the way that the AFRO positioned itself in relation to the McGovern/Nixon presidential election. The source images for these works were taken by staff photographer Phillips during a meeting with presidential hopeful George S. McGovern in 1972, hosted by AFRO chairman Frances L. Murphy II (my grandmother, pictured at left in Right there).  

In 628 N. Eutaw Street, I have made strategic crops to an image of a crowd gathered outside of the AFRO’s headquarters after a meeting with George McGovern. These crops illustrate strategic edits made by the AFRO’s photo editor — in one image "AFRO" is drawn on to the surface of the photograph to indicate where the crowd was gathered, and in another, a bystander's shoulder is outlined in gray to create contrast between two men's white shirts. While these edits aim to communicate something more accurate about the scene that day, this piece asks, “How many edits can you make before the image is no longer true?”

Our Choice is a collaged diptych that highlights the power and agency of the Black press, while pointing to the (mis)perception of truth when handling archives. This piece appears to re-present newspaper clippings from the AFRO’s collections, but upon closer observation, these clippings reveal themselves as photographic copies with their own materiality and temporality. These cut photographs are mounted slightly away from colored backgrounds, making an oblique reference to the the different ways the AFRO’s archival folders photographed under different light sources. In this piece, I am equally interested in the content of the images (an endorsement for a presidential candidate, and the process leading up to it) and the ways material can convey meaning and authority.