Women, heritage inspire new art show


Marshique West, Jose Arebalo/ The Advocate

Here are some of the pieces on display at “Adornment,” the art exhibit currently playing at the Eddie Rhodes Gallery in A-5. The collection opened Thursday and will remain on display until March 31.

By Daniel Hernandez, Advocate Staff

Style, power and uniqueness of tribal African women being captured with acrylic paint on canvas is the latest exhibit showcasing the work of art major Elishes Cavness at the Eddie Rhodes Gallery in A-5.

Just ahead of International Women’s Day in the Art Building on Thursday, an art reception was held for the launch of the new display titled “Adornment,” which will be on display until March 31.

“‘Adornment’ is about the idea of culture and the thing that sometimes we think have a unique look or something that we do that makes us stand out — when, in actuality, it’s sometimes (our) cultural heritage,” Cavness said.

Working within a short period of time, he started setting up the exhibit on Monday to reach the deadline on Thursday afternoon.

Cavness said, “I’ve been in here every day after class until whenever they kick me out of the building, trying to get things done.”

Gallery curator Dana Davis is usually the person in charge, piecing together the art by hanging frames and working with the hardware. However, Cavness took charge this time around.

“Elishes (Cavness) has taken care of so much. He’s so capable and so energetic. I really enjoyed the time off,” Davis said.

He said he admires the message and concept that Cavness is expressing with his art and believes the diversity and creativity of artists here (at Contra Costa College) brings together everybody from the campus.

“I feel like women are awesome, so let’s just do a show because they’re the keepers of our culture,” Cavness said. “So, I wanted to express that. And that I appreciate my mom, my sister, my cousins, all of them who do a lot for me and have done a lot in general.

“I felt like I just need to do this because I’ve been going through this thing where I was questioning my own religious viewpoints,” Cavness said.

One piece that he highlighted is “Savior,” a Jesus figure depicted as a black woman.

“In my culture when reading the history (of black women) and everything that they went through — what they had to do to protect black men, I just wanted to depict them as bearing the cross.”

A featured piece that the artist has a close connection with is “Fervent Gaze.”

It takes inspiration from the Tuareg people where the figure’s face is masked, but her eyes are the astounding feature.

Cavness purposefully gave this painting its own wall because it highlights itself and there is “no pairing with it,” Cavness said.

“When I’m painting, it has a way of taking over me and I’m just kind of a vessel,” Cavness said.

The art reception on Thursday was filled with all kinds of people who mingled and discussed different perspectives of his artwork.

People had an interesting discourses about what certain paintings meant to them while eating some of the food that was offered.

Psychology major Xian Jabarrow said, “The colors are so vibrant and his use of texture is so phenomenal. I also liked his textile piece in the middle with the canvas, burlap and the skirt. It is beautiful. I think that might be my favorite.”

She said the textile piece gives the feeling of controlled chaos where the fabrics are tight-fitting on the bodice but at the same time containing the design when it is going everywhere.

“I think that his work is exceptional and his energy and his camaraderie is infectious,” Davis said.

For him, he feels art shows much like “Adornment” mean a lot to the student body and offer a platform where students and faculty can show their art professionally in an open environment on campus.

The reception was a resounding success providing inspired conversations. The gallery will be on display throughout the rest of the month.