Above: Lucia Hierro, Arroz Blanco, 2020.

NXTHVN, an international art institution in the Dixwell neighborhood of New Haven, CT, is pleased to present Not For Sale, a group exhibition on view from March 4 to May 14, 2023. The exhibition is curated by Cornelia Stokes and Kiara Cristina Ventura, NXTHVN’s Cohort 04 Curatorial Fellows. A tribute to Black and Brown communities, Not For Sale explores the relationship between culture, consumerism and community and how these connections inform which objects and materials we collectively hold valuable. Contributing artists Anthony Akinbola, LaKela Brown, David Hammons, Lucia Hierro, Emmanuel Massillon and Sable Elyse Smith use a wide range of materials and media to focus on establishments in low-income communities such as the corner deli, beauty supply store, local jail, church and liquor store. Not For Sale highlights what is exchanged, bought and consumed in these local spaces. Located in Dixwell, a historically African American neighborhood in New Haven, the exhibition references essential areas of commerce and communal gathering found in communities across the United States.

Containing materials such as du-rags, bamboo earrings and food products commonly consumed, each artwork reappropriates items found in Black and Brown culture, uniquely nodding to these communities’ resilience, grit and resourcefulness.“Despite the constant battle between stereotypical stigmas and the capitalist economy that historically profits from Black and Brown communities, we remain creative, vibrant, and powerful. Not For Sale is a testament to this and allows communities like Dixwell to engage in shared, yet priceless, realities of being Black or Brown,” says Stokes.

Despite the circumstances and every day realities created by systemic racism, mass incarceration, food insecurity and the overall inequities due to the lasting socio-political-economic effects of colonialism, the works powerfully compel viewers to acknowledge and respect cultures that are regularly sought after in Western society. Utilizing their personal and diasporic narratives, the artists are creating multilayered works of art that engage consumption, respectability and the commodification of Black and Brown culture. Through familiar street and domestic objects, sounds and images, the artists celebrate the shared realities and the high cultural value found in Black and Brown communities, while stating that their inherent ways of being, their energy and their culture are Not For Sale.

“While nodding to how we contribute so much value to today’s society, Not For Sale is about preserving and protecting the cultures, people, and communities we come from. We hope this exhibition invokes feelings of pride and joy as it emphasizes the beauty of our resilience as Black and Brown people in the US,” saysVentura. In its fourth year, the NXTHVN Fellowship accelerates artistic and curatorial careers within acollaborative, community-driven context through a cutting-edge curriculum that marries artistic and professional development.

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