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Jamaica-based artist Emmett Wigglesworth’s latest exhibit, “It Takes A Village,” explodes with color. BHM-CUBE

The 16 foam core sculptures and eight paintings, on display in Resorts World Casino New York City’s Red Wall Art Gallery, feature humanlike forms decked out with patterns coated in bright reds, yellows and purples. On the other side of the sculptures, the patterns are black and white. For Wigglesworth, the colors demand attention, contrasting with the black and white to make a crucial statement that humanity as a whole needs to see past surface perceptions.

“The idea is to make people see more than what’s in front of their eyes by creating with the colors another dimension and making them aware that they just can’t concentrate on a face,” he told the Queens Tribune. “But there’s something within humanity collectively that we have yet to see and identify and, if we don’t, I’m very much afraid as a species we’re not going to be here too long.”

The sculptures were part of an exhibit, “It Is Not Enough To See…One Must See Through To Find Truth,” which was on display at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) in the fall.

That display has been included as part of “It Takes A Village,” which emphasizes humanity’s collective need to be more understanding of one another. The new exhibit will be on view at Resorts World Casino until March 8 as part of its Black History Month celebration. The project is being curated in collaboration with JCAL.

According to Wigglesworth, the new exhibit is an extension of the original JCAL exhibit. Colorful structures created by Southeast Queens artist Emmett Wigglesworth on display at the Resorts World Casino. Photo by Trone Dowd

“I wanted a different theme, but I also wanted that theme to be part of the new theme,” he said. “What I planned to do is extend it and introduce more figures, so that the next theme would carry both titles, but it would then reach into the immigrants, migrants, refugees— but it would all just be figures. But it would always retain the color excitement because we can’t keep seeing people as shadows.”

Wigglesworth has lived in Jamaica for 20 years. But he has a long history of using arts to engage social issues, particularly during the civil rights era. During the 1950s and 1960s, he taught art at the CORE Freedom School in Selma, Alabama—a movement from the civil rights era that provided alternative free schools for African Americans in the South. He said that the Civil Rights Movement has played a role in informing how he sees his art.

“What it did was it kind of made me realize how important it was to try to present that issue in a bigger market, so to speak, so more people could understand,” he said.

Wigglesworth said he spent many years moving around and that his home in Queens has given him his first real stable place to work.

“It gave me a place to stop and take stock of myself and what I was doing because everywhere else I was living, I was always on the move,” he said. “It affected the work that I did because I don’t want to use the term ‘rush it,’ but I was never sure whether I would have to move.”

Wigglesworth says that he hopes his work will inspire others to pursue the arts.

“The arts need to be promoted” he said. “Everything in life is the arts. If you look around you now, [that] chair was designed by somebody, the clothes that you have on, the music that you hear, the building, the architecture, your car. Parents need to understand that their children have those talents, but if they aren’t aware of that, they kind of direct their kids away from the arts.”

 

Source: Queens Press