Thu 11/7 @ 5-7PM
Amber N. Ford is one of the area’s most gifted and rapidly rising young artists. The 2016 graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, who is primarily a photographer but has also explored printmaking, has already been seen in major exhibitions and venues all around town, including Morgan Conservatory, Zygote Press, the Cleveland Print Room, the Transformer Station, SPACES, the Yards Project, The Temple-Tifereth Israel, Heights Arts, Ursuline College’s Wasmer Gallery, the Shaker Historial Society’s Lissauer Gallery, the Gallery at Lakeland, CAN Triennial, and Cleveland Art League West and Zaina Gallery at 78th Street Studios. At this point it would be easier to say where she HASN’T shown — in less than three years. It makes the title of a pop-up show she was part of a couple of years ago called “Nobody Likes You When You’re 23” seem ironic in her case.
Although she’s experimented with alternative media, Ford’s strength is portraiture, especially of marginalized communities and overlooked people. She’s done series on recent immigrants and refugees to Cleveland as well as members of her own black community. She just finished a residency at Gordon Square, photographing ordinary neighborhood people of color to provide material for a mural.
“The base of my work is the exploration of the word black which, although it is seen as a single color, comes in many shades, hues, and tones,” says Ford. “It is the intersection where a color meets an identity because it is also a way to describe my people, our history, and our unique challenges. Through photography and installation, I create work that connects with, resonates among, and gives opportunity to a people looking to call some corner of the world their own.”
Now she’s adding a new venue to her resume: the Uumbaji Art Gallery in Kent State University’s Oscar Ritchie Hall. Her new show there, (Dis)Mantle, features photo portraits, cyanotypes and prints on silk, all intended to dismantle stereotypes about black bodies and display the diverse colors and textures of black skin.
“Through expanded photography Amber N. Ford deconstructs these binds by reassessing definitions of Black as a color, a construct, and a lived reality,” says the artist statement.
The show opens with a free reception Thu 11/7 @ 5-7pm. It runs through Fri 12/6. The gallery is open Monday through Friday @ 9am-5pm. There’s also a dialogue with Ford and curator Dr. Joseph Underwood Wed 11/20 @ 7pm in the KSU Center for Visual Arts, room 165.