Sculptor and plaster relief artist LaKela Brown is showing her work in a new solo exhibition at Corktown-based contemporary art gallery Reyes Finn. Titled Impressed, the show debuts on Sept. 2 and will feature the Detroit native’s largest plaster reliefs to date and — in a departure from her usual medium — a series of artwork made using handmade paper.
Brown created the plaster reliefs displayed in Impressed while in residence at Popps Packing, an artist-run experimental venue in Hamtramck. According to a press release, the works feature symbols that “reckon with historical representations of Black women.”
“While I come from a traditional figurative sculpture background, this work has led me to remove the figure and shift the focus from (the uses of) Black women’s bodies, toward acknowledging the cultural contributions of Black women,” says Brown in a statement. “There is power in that removal.” The pieces range from organized to abstract in their composition and contain depictions of rope chain necklaces, chicken heads, and doorknocker hoop earrings — some of which are highlighted using gold leaf.
Brown collaborated with Brooklyn-based nonprofit papermaking studio Dieu Donné on the exhibition’s paper series. The pieces are inspired by her plaster works and feature similar symbols that are embossed into handmade cotton paper. “The artist’s paper impressions share the love-letter quality of her plaster works — they exist full of material and compositional polarities,” says Bridget Finn, co-founder and partner at Reyes Finn, in a press release. “Grids of neatly organized hoop earrings oppose sheets of irregular groupings that appear to be falling off the page. Here, the hoop earring triumphs, cleverly subverting conceptions of value, taste, and wealth.”
Running through Oct. 16, Impressed is Brown’s second solo exhibition and fifth presentation with Reyes Finn. A 2005 graduate of College for Creative Studies, Brown is now based in Brooklyn and works as a professor at Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been shown in spaces such as 56 Henry in New York City, Lars Friedrich Gallery in Berlin, the Rockefeller Center in New York City, and in publications including The New York Times, Artforum, Artnet, and the 2020 anthology Black Futures.
Reyes Finn, located at 2500 Trumbull Ave., is open from noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. The gallery asks that guests reserve a time to visit the space through its website. All visitors must wear masks.
For more information, visit reyesfinn.com.