Coated / Coded An exhibition featuring a series of artists working in layers to describe their experience and serves as a double meaning referring to surface and to hidden meaning.
Frank P. Doyle Library
1501 Mendocino Avenue
Tōmye Neal Madison
Kristin Powers Nowlin
When Brandon Donahue and Jessica Gatlin suggested the pairing of adjectives, coated with coded, my mind branched out. I had started by simply thinking it would be a good idea to get Brandon’s work over to California, knowing in person his “basketball blooms” as emblematic objects that take the materials from the street and re-purpose them into beautiful forms for the gallery wall. I had not yet identified this as “code-switching,” transforming the vernacular into set-apart art objects.
Such work brings awareness to the bridges we all cross between our basic selves and the presentation of that self. It helps us get to the truth of who we are beneath the costumes we put on for others or the labels they put on us. It helps us admire what we thought was mundane.
Whether it is a code of behavior or coded imagery or a coded interface with physical and social reality, artists seek to break the code, break through the code, simply see the code so that it has less power.
The coating of objects and ideas—this too is a tree of many branches. We layer films of color over earthen objects, we cover painful histories with sweet stories, we sugar-coat bitter medicine to help it go down. If it is coated too thickly it loses its effect and we suffer from the toxic overload, the gaudy paint, the suffocating sweetness. But just enough coating and it attracts our gaze, celebrates the form, helps us realize the underlying truth.
We have selected artists whose work evokes these ideas, especially in the context of Black America and Latinx America, but also in terms of form.