UTA Artist Space is pleased to announce the upcoming opening of We Insist Upon Ourselves in Perpetuity Throughout the Universe, a dual exhibition from the creative minds of two Juxtapoz featured alums, April Bey and Kim Dacres. The exhibition brings together the two artists, bonding over three key ideas: the wonder and beauty of Black queer folks and women, the legalese fluency needed to be a successful artist in the creative industry, and a love of reading magical stories where individuals are gods unto themselves. 

Bey’s work centers on the artist’s imagined alternate universe where glitter is the currency and where visitors travel via portals of flora and fauna, as well as being deeply rooted in her rigorous reading practice, love of books and obsession with Sci-Fi. She incorporates colorful faux fur, glitter, vinyl and woven textiles such as brocade and velvet–materials rich in queerness–to craft icons around the images of real-life figures from her community. Her work, which spans across multiple media such as printed textiles, synthography, weaving and elaborate stitching, reflects her background in printmaking and design and results in richly layered works rooted in the intersections of post-colonialism, Speculative Futurism, internet culture and feminism.

A bona fide bibliophile and self-described “Blerd,” Bey draws inspiration from a myriad of different sources, many of them books in the fantasy, sci-fi, and futuristic realm including comics and graphic novels. These various wells of inspiration come together to form her world, Atlantica. The origin of Atlantica comes from a formative conversation with her father who used the language of sci-fi to describe the experience of otherness and racial oppression, positioning the artist as an alien on a mission to observe and report on the conditions of Earth. They may also encounter Pineapple Afrovenuses, deities that can cut down travel time and aid in transportation at a rapid speed, leaving the traveler with pineapple scented hair and skin. Populating the library are Calathea Crotalus Cerastes, a hybrid plant which fruits the hands of Black femmes with freshly manicured nails–they too act as transportation devices that grow naturally on Atlantica. On Atlantica, librarians are the custodians of the history of the world, their job is of the utmost importance and crucial to the fundamental operations of Atlantica.

Kim Dacres’ work focuses on the multifaceted tensions inherent within Black women’s self- presentation and the reception of that presentation in our contemporary social environment, highlighting the sculptural role that hairstyles and adornments play in the daily gendered lives of Black women, girls, and queer people. Dacres underscores the power of such styles to assert the validity of one’s lived, but at times concealed, life experiences. Dacres uses rubber from recycled tires to create sculptures celebrating these influential forces in her life. Her works are acts of sculptural translation, embodying the assertive energy and presence of the people, particularly the Black women, that shape her identity-based and geographic communities – women the artist may personally know or encounter, as well as fictional characters, performers, athletes, and musicians that have forged her experience.

While drawn initially to the rubber tire material for its uniquely accessible, forgiving, and malleable nature, the artist further mines the material’s metaphorical resonances with her own personal experience and the broader cycle of injustice and oppression inflicted upon Black and Brown people in America; all in spite of the contributions these very same individuals give as teachable moments to move the world and forward. Through the alchemical transformation of object into art, Dacres infuses the discarded materials with new life and joy, one reaching far beyond its preordained purpose