Growing up, Dontre Major’s grandmother made a point of introducing her grandkids to important times and places in history. She took Major to Alabama, to the spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. “She wanted us to know our history,” he says.
Major, too, wants us to remember and reflect on our shared history, and he’s doing just that with a new exhibition, Black America: Resilient, opening at Redux this Fri. Dec. 6, 5-8 p.m.
It’s Major’s first solo exhibition, following a successful year in which he earned best in show during the Halsey’s Young Contemporaries exhibit. Major’s Halsey show, Black AmeriKKKA, explored black history from enslavement to the present day. Black America: Resilient expands on and continues that conversation. [content-1]
“You have to be reminded of the past,” says Major. “Especially with the way things are going now with politics, even to remember past presidents.” Major urges that we reflect on our historic mistakes so that we don’t repeat them.
Major creates some of his images using various photographic developing methods, from Van Dyke Brown (a printing process) to liquid emulsion. “I try to give them their own identity,” he says. “Each one makes you feel a different way.”
While he points to the Civil Rights movement as a particular focus, he acknowledges that his pieces, regardless of what they’re depicting, each have their own level of significance. “Each is its own step toward progress,” he says.
An Oklahoma native, Major says that moving to Charleston five years ago really resonated with him. “Charleston is where slaves were actually brought. It hit a little harder with me,” he says. “The history is so evident here.”
He talks about an exhibition he did earlier this year, Prints in Clay, which was sponsored by the Slave Dwelling Project, the Historic Charleston Foundation, and the Gaillard Center. The project documents fingerprints left by enslaved men and women in bricks around historic Charleston.
“Seeing people’s fingerprints — when you realize that and take that in — there’s something a little dramatic about that,” says Major.
Black America: Resilient will be on display through Jan. 25, 2020. That gives you enough time to visit it at least once, maybe several times. Spend time with the images and see how they make you feel.
As Major says, “Come in prepared and ready to be moved.”