Gallery Director Karla Ferguson Announces Provocative Exhibit Confronting America’s Racial Crisis By White French-American Artist Jerome Soimaud
Karla Ferguson, the Jamaican-born owner of Miami’s Yeelen Gallery, launched painter Jerome Soimaud’s "BlackFreedom" exhibit with an invite-only party at the gallery on February 14. The exhibit will be open for general viewing starting Wednesday, February 18 and will close May 2.
"I’m proud to commemorate Black History Month with this exhibit," says the thirty-five year-old Ferguson, who worked as a law intern with the Innocence Project New Orleans before opening her celebrated gallery in Miami’s "Little Haiti".
BlackFreedom documents the Civil Rights Movement in Miami and prominently features a tribute to the last hours of Jumbo’s Restaurant, an indelible symbol of the end of Jim Crow in America.
Highlighting the urgent contemporary relevance of the exhibit, Ferguson continues: "Tragedies like the killing of Michael Brown and its aftermath indicate that the nation is facing a crisis of racial and socioeconomic disorder. And it’s not just a ‘black problem’, it’s everyone’s problem. Jerome’s searing, unforgettable work speaks directly to this mounting division and offers an opportunity for deep, healing, reflection, and a continuation of activism."
Adding to the layers of meaning in the exhibit is the personal connection between the exhibitor and the artist: Ferguson and Soimaud have been married since (2004) and are the parents of four daughters.
"We’re a team," says Ferguson. "Like this exhibit, our family is a beautiful gathering that defies convention and expectations."
Born in Paris in 1964, Soimaud studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, after working under the instruction of architect Alain Farel at The Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He relocated to Miami in 2006 to concentrate his work on subjects related to the African Diaspora.
Soimaud’s art harnesses a distinctive technique of painting on canvas with charcoal and graphite interwoven with light, emphasizing delicate yet exacting attention to detail. His works are in public and private collections internationally.
The Yeelen Gallery opened in 2008 and its name translates to "Brightness" or "Light" in the Bambara language, which is spoken in the African country of Mali.
Under Ferguson’s fearless direction, the gallery has given voice to marginalized people through the power of art and its exhibits have been covered by The Miami Herald and The New York Times.
"Most galleries are ruled by commercial interest, so they don’t see the potential in controversial exhibits like BlackFreedom," says Ferguson. "I don’t give a damn about commercial interest."