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Announcement
July 2, 2021

Jamal Cyrus, Martine Gutierrez, and Jagdeep Raina

Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston

[1] Jamal Cyrus, Lights from the Garden, 2019. Bentwood chairs, stainless steel rods, oak flooring. Courtesy of the artist and Inman Gallery. [2] Jagdeep Raina, The curious pause on that broadway day, 2017. Mixed media on paper. Courtesy of the artist and Cooper Cole. [3] Martine Gutierrez, Neo-Indeo, PG 25 and PG 31, from Indigenous Woman, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Ryan Lee Gallery.

The Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston is pleased to announce its summer exhibition program.

Jamal Cyrus: The End of My Beginning
June 5–September 19, 2021
Assembly and amalgamation across time, continents, records, individuals, and materials characterize the expansive practice of Jamal Cyrus as he explores the evolution of African-American identity within Black political movements and the African diaspora. He is especially attuned to the cultural hybrids that have emerged from cross-border interactions in historical eras—from Ancient Egypt and the 16th-century transatlantic slave trade to the Jazz Age of the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movements of the 1960s. Counting academic Paul Gilroy and his decentralized diasporic thinking as a model and muse, Cyrus surveys “the Afro-Atlantic” as, in his words, “an intercontinental and multinational geography describing the circulation of ideas between Africa, Europe, and the Americas.”

The End of My Beginning spans 15 formative years of Cyrus’s practice from 2005–20, assembling over 50 artworks that include drawings, prints, paintings, and works on both paper and papyrus, as well as sculpture, textiles, and installation. This survey is presented in partnership with Texas Southern University (TSU), which will open a sister exhibition, entitled Levels and Layers, featuring vernacular work from Houston's Third Ward, on June 18 at its University Museum. Cyrus is both an alumnus of UH and a professor at TSU, and his work will bring together the two major universities located in the Third Ward to co-present an exhibition for the first time. The exhibition will also be accompanied by a catalogue co-published by Inventory Press, featuring essays by Grace Deveney, Ciarán Finlayson, Jamillah James, Steven Matijcio, Ana Tuazon, and an interview conducted by Dr. Alvia Wardlaw. In 2022, the Blaffer exhibition will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Martine Gutierrez: Radiant Cut
June 26—October 24, 2021
The Blaffer presents a micro-survey of the work of Martine Gutierrez, a chameleon-like artist whose photos, performances, and videos deconstruct glittery conventions of fashion, beauty, advertising, and glamour. She instigates a similar reinvention of gender, race, and identity—translating her Mayan heritage and Guatemalan-American ethnicity into an evocative platform to (re)discover, embellish, and amplify bodies “outside of the binary.” Inspired by ancient Aztec deities that embody historical models of duality and gender-fluidity, Gutierrez explains, “My authenticity has never been to exist singularly, whether in regard to my gender, my ethnicity, or sexual orientation. My truth thrives in the gray area…” Within this amorphous arena of self-exploration, the artist explores the ways in which sexuality and style are constructed and propagated in popular mediafrom clothing lines and cosmetics to perfume, haute couture, and music videos.

Jagdeep Raina: Bonds
June 26—October 24, 2021
Jagdeep Raina illustrates and reimagines scenes and stories from across the Kashmiri and Punjabi diasporas. Through drawings, writings, paintings, weavings, and animated films, Raina examines histories of transnational migration and mobility and their effects on contemporary life. Often drawing upon oral history and archival research as source material for his practice, the artist works to complicate and upend monolithic perceptions of these richly varied diasporic communities.

This exhibition marks Raina’s first solo museum presentation in the United States, featuring a selection of artworks made over the last six years. The objects highlight the artist’s distinctive figurative language across media, including lushly rendered works on paper that carefully depict various characters and sites of gathering like neighborhood storefronts, theaters, or domestic spaces. Also included are Raina’s recent tapestries and stop-motion animated films, which explore themes of displacement and imperial power, as well as the complex economic, environmental, and material histories of farming labor and rural life in the Punjab and Kashmir regions.

About Blaffer Art Museum
Founded in 1973, Blaffer Art Museum is the contemporary art museum at the University of Houston. Its exhibitions and programs are always free and open to the public, striving to create community through dialogue, engagement, and participation. The Blaffer is a catalyst for creative innovation, experimentation, and scholarship, fostering collaborative opportunities across disciplines. For more information, please e-mail infoblaffer [​at​] uh.edu or visit blafferartmuseum.org.

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