Through a Different Lens

Photos shed light on black history

By DeNesha Tellis

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the works included in Reflections in Black: Smithsonian African American Photography add up to an encyclopedia of the black experience in America.The three-part exhibition, on tour since January 2001, explores the history of black photography in this country from 1840 to the present. Parts one and two, "The First 100 Years: 1842-1942" and "Art and Activism," have been well-received by audiences around the country. The third and final installment, "A History Deconstructed," opens today at the Metro State Center for the Visual Arts with a slide presentation by author Carla Williams at 2 p.m. and a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight. "History" showcases 75 works from the past twenty years.

"It's a stunning show," says Amy Banker, assistant director of the CVA. "Everybody's just been amazed. The fact that it's capturing the imaginations of everyone from fifteen-year-olds to adults just speaks to the power of it."

Albert Chong, an associate professor of art/photography at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Carrie Mae Weems are among the notable artists featured in the show. Several of the pieces juxtapose text and images, with words painted or typed directly onto the photographs. Other techniques include such experimental formats as placing dirt on a photograph or printing pictures on leaves through a silver-gelatin emulsion process.

"I think it's definitely an opportunity for Denverites... especially those who don't have the chance to travel to New York or D.C. or Europe," says Banker. "It shows the diversity of art as well as artists."

At 7 p.m. tomorrow evening, Williams and Ashara Ekundayo will engage in a multimedia dialogue titled "Mama's Always on Stage: Black Women's Bodies in Cultural Performance."

The Center for the Visual Arts is at 1734 Wazee Street; call 303-294-5207 or go to www. for information. All events are free.

LunaFest shines on women's issues

Forget sappy chick flicks. The six shorts being shown as part of LunaFest -- a traveling festival featuring films by, for and about women -- range from thought-provoking to inspirational."I'm really honored to participate in this festival, because LunaFest is so supportive of women's issues," says Tiffany Shlain, director of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, a documentary about the threat to women's reproductive rights. "So much is happening with this issue, but most women don't realize how many laws are being enacted that take their right to choose away from them."

Culled from over 170 submissions, the selected films take on topics such as female condoms, breast cancer, a mother's dedication and more. LunaFest, which is now in its third incarnation, "is really a filmmakers' dream, because it travels to over 25 locations," says Shlain. "It's really satisfying to reach such a broad audience."

The festival is sponsored by Luna, a company that makes nutrition bars specifically for women.

The six films screen tonight starting at 7 p.m. at the REI flagship store, 1416 Platte Street, and 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street in Boulder. Admission to the REI show is $5 for REI members, $7 for the general public; tickets for Wednesday's screening are $10. All proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Fund. For further information, visit -- Julie Dunn

Armchair Art

Take a visual trip to the sunny Mediterranean with a new exhibit at Edge Gallery. Corsica: The First Wave features works by thirteen local artists who journeyed this past summer to Bastellica, a tiny mountain village on the windswept island. "Having access to the ocean, the mountains and the tropical forests was just amazing," says Gayla Lemke, who creates large ceramic sculptures. "It provides a very different type of inspiration."

And although members of the group work in varying mediums, from traditional plein-air painting to contemporary found-object sculpture, they quickly found common ground while living in a large stone manor for two weeks and sharing food, drink and conversation. The eclectic fruits of their travels will be on display through the end of the month.

"The common theme is that we all really enjoy traveling and making art," says Lemke. "And it's such a pretty place -- the visual influences are so strong."

Corsica opens tonight with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. at Edge, 3658 Navajo Street. For further information, call 303-477-7173. -- Julie Dunn

Dolls Housed

Women's art takes a journey into the unconscious

By Julie DunnDelve into the female psyche with Dearborn Rieder Gallery's newest exhibit, Archetypal Images: Art From the Unconscious.The show features three-dimensional, sculpted polymer clay dolls made by eight local women who participated in Leslie Verdi's nine-month class called "Journey of the Doll."

"Archetypes are psychological structures, and we look at archetypes and myths and use them to come up with these figures," explains Verdi. "It's a very powerful process that allows people to use their own creativity to learn more about the hidden aspects of their personality. The dolls are the treasure brought back from the journey."

Archetypal Images, which opens tonight with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. and hangs through the end of the month, will include ten life-sized dolls crafted by Verdi. "It's about accessing feminine energy," says Verdi. "It's hard to explain, but it's a very fascinating and powerful thing to see. [The dolls] bring up a lot of different feelings."

Dearborn Rieder is at 1420 Pearl Street on the mall in Boulder. For details, call 303-442-4777.

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