Naima Keith
Naima Keith

The California African American Museum’s fall season of exhibitions are open to the public celebrating the work of several generations of contemporary artists and historical figures.

This season, the exhibitions consider a range of subjects, from works by contemporary artists in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States. These new exhibitions and the public programs planned in conjunction with them are overseen by Deputy Director Naima J. Keith, who joined CAAM in February 2016 after holding curatorial positions at The Studio Museum in Harlem and Hammer Museum.

One of CAAM’s fall exhibitions is:

Genevieve Gaignard: Smell the Roses

Now–February 12, 2017

CAAM presents the first museum exhibition of the work of Los Angeles artist Genevieve Gaignard, who deftly uses installation, photographic self-portraiture, and sculpture to explore race, femininity, and class—and their various intersections. The daughter of a black father and white mother in a Massachusetts mill town, Gaignard’s youth was marked by a strong sense of invisibility. Was her family white enough to be white? Black enough to be black? In this new, immersive installation she invokes post-Katrina New Orleans shotgun houses and white picket fences to address questions of “passing,” positioning her own female body as the chief site of exploration and challenging viewers to navigate the powers and anxieties of intersectional identity.

Influenced by the soulful sounds of Billy Stewart, the kitschy aesthetic of John Waters, and the provocative artifice of drag culture, Gaignard employs lowbrow pop sensibilities to create dynamic visual narratives. From the identity performance ritualized in ‘‘selfie” culture to the gender displays of hyper-femme footwear, Gaignard blends humor, persona, and popular culture to reveal the ways in which the meeting and mixing of contrasting realities can feel like displacement.

Gaignard received her BA in Photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design (2007) and an MFA in Photography from Yale University (2014). This exhibition is curated by CAAM’s Deputy Director, Naima J. Keith. A walkthrough of the exhibition is followed by an artist talk and audience Q & A.