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Snickers That Turn Into Livable Joy

August 13
September 12 2021

Where Cleveland Institute of Art, Ann and Norman Roulet Student + Alumni Gallery

"Free Forever" by Ewuresi Archer

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Snickers That Turn Into Livable Joy, featuring work by CIA students and recent graduates and curated by Amani Williams ’21, will be on view from August 13 to September 12 in the Ann and Norman Roulet Student + Alumni Gallery. A public event will be held from 6:30 to 8pm Thursday, August 26 in conjunction with the public opening of the 2021 Faculty Exhibition in Reinberger Gallery.

Ewuresi Archer
Sydney Nicole Kay
Crystal Miller
Kayla Sanford
Derek Walker
Amani Williams

“I think it’s very important to look back. I don't think we do it often enough. I think sometimes looking back leads to a kind of depression and stasis, which isn’t good. But, looking forward without any kind of deep historical feeling of connectedness is no good either.” – Kara Walker, discussing her work, “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby,” during an interview for Art21’s “Extended Play” (2014).

Within art, history is a subject that is constantly being confronted, with humorous takes from Edouard Manet’s “Olympia” to Betye Saar’s “Liberation of Aunt Jemima.” Music, books, television and movies are all engulfed by history’s beauty and ugliness. History, as we know it, is really storytelling. This storytelling, by mainstream white supremacy, confected a narrative that dismisses and disempowers BIPOC.

In Snickers That Turn Into Livable Joy, humor, wit and criticism become a path to joy in the gallery. Snickering is a jeering type of laughter. This laughter is directed at the ridiculous nature of the exclusionary art historical canon. This exhibition makes light of that history rather than trying to teach the audience.

The term “livable joy” is a way of stating a kind of happiness that is reachable, possible and worth striving for. This show brings representation of BIPOC and artistic vision to the forefront. It does not wait for affirmation from the institution, but rather responds to performative activism with real doing. The work of these artists stands in balance to years of the suppression and marginalization of POC and womxn artists. Via the work in this show—from Derek Walker’s gleeful afro-futuristic “Gem in I” to Ewuresi Archer’s disorienting battle cry “Free Forever”—audiences are propelled into a new chapter of the art historical narrative.

To read Amani Williams’ curator’s statement, and to read a critical essay of Snickers That Turn Into Livable Joy by independent curator and writer Thea Spittle, click here.


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Cleveland Institute of Art
Ann and Norman Roulet Student + Alumni Gallery
11610 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106

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Cuyahoga Arts and Culture

Cleveland Institute of Art is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.