BEVERLY MCIVER: EYES WIDE SHUT
Click to see current work: BEVERLY MCIVER
EYES WIDE SHUT
NEW PAINTINGS FROM THE AMERICAN ACADEMY IN ROME
Durham —BEVERLY McIVER: EYES WIDE SHUT, New Paintings from the American Academy in Rome, opens at Craven Allen Gallery on Saturday, November 17, with a reception from 5 to 7 pm.
As a winner of the Rome Prize, nationally known painter Beverly McIver was able to leave her hectic schedule of teaching at Duke University and the burden of caregiving for her family to spend a year painting, a true luxury for the artist. “Italy–outwardly spectacular, with its mysterious quality of light–gave me the gift of being able to hear my inner voice loud and clear.”
The artist noticed a peculiarity in the works she created during this intensely creative time. “In most of the portraits I created, my subject’s eyes are either closed or covered by sunglasses. But I realized the closed eyes were not a refusal to see, but a turning inward, an experience of centeredness. I felt like my time at the academy was introspective and sometimes, as a person of color, in the historic heart of Western Civilization, I felt invisible. But this was also freeing. I couldn’t remember the last time it was this quiet in my head.”
Since returning from Rome, McIver has been “… fascinated with those who courageously share their authentic selves with the world. I continue to create portraits of white males in blackface, black women in body paint, and men who dress in drag. I remain intrigued by masks, dress-up, and how we as humans choose to define ourselves… I hope these new paintings inspire others who may need permission to be their authentic self. “
McIver recently received the Anyone Can Fly Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in a ceremony hosted by Faith Ringgold. While in Rome, she appeared in a short documentary on Italian television, Beverly McIver e il colore nero. Her work is in major museums and collections across the country. She is the Ebenshade Professor of the Practice of Visual Arts at Duke University.
The show continues through January 26.
Craven Allen Gallery is located at 1106 ½ Broad Street in Durham. Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, please call the gallery at 286-4837 or visit www.CravenAllenGallery.com.
EYES WIDE SHUT
New Paintings from the American Academy in Rome
It is natural to be afraid of where your journey will take you, and who you might encounter along the way. The challenge is to remain open, both spiritually and mentally, as you follow your path–to be fully present.
A yearlong fellowship at the American Academy in Rome gave me the chance to rediscover myself as an artist. For the first time since inheriting the responsibility of caring for my mentally disabled sister Renee, I was free of the burden. Who was I when I wasn’t a caregiver to Renee and my 92-year-old dad, or a teacher of students, or an artist living under the weight of the history of the American South? Who was I when I was only responsible for myself?
I felt many emotions simultaneously and was keenly aware of the intensity of being alive. I was learning, as if for the first time, what I liked and disliked. Mostly, I was able to paint. I painted daily at the academy, a creative outpouring of work inconceivable in my life at home.
I was able to silence all the voices in my head that tell me what to do or what might sell. I allowed my intuition to guide my choices of who and what to paint. In most of the portraits I created, my subject’s eyes are either closed or covered by sunglasses. But I realized the closed eyes were not a refusal to see, but a turning inward, an experience of centeredness. I felt like my time at the academy was introspective and sometimes, as a person of color, in the historic heart of Western Civilization, I felt invisible. But this was also freeing. I couldn’t remember the last time it was this quiet in my head.
My quest for identifying my true self was heightened by an important portrait commission. I had spent most of my formative years wanting to be white clown, with blonde hair; I often paint myself in white or blackface and in costume. One white client courageously asked for a portrait in blackface and red stiletto heels, an expression of his inner life. Working on the painting affected me profoundly. Although our reasons differed, I realized we are both humans in search of our truth.
Since I returned from Rome, I’ve been fascinated with those who courageously share their authentic selves with the world. I continue to create portraits of white males in blackface, black women in body paint, and men who dress in drag. I remain intrigued by masks, dress-up, and how we as humans choose to define ourselves.
Italy–outwardly spectacular, with its mysterious quality of light–gave me the gift of being able to hear my inner voice loud and clear. I discovered a sense of peace with who I am at this moment. I hope these new paintings inspire others who may need permission to be their authentic self.
ABOUT BEVERLY MCIVER
Beverly McIver is widely acknowledged as a significant presence in contemporary American art and has charted a new direction as an African American woman artist. She is committed to producing art that consistently examines racial, gender, social and occupational identity.
McIver was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1962. She is the youngest of three girls born to Ethel McIver. Her oldest sister Renee is mentally disabled, with the mindset of a second grader. Beverly is Renee’s legal guardian. Renee is a frequent subject of the artist, as are other family members.
“Raising Renee”, a feature-length documentary film produced in association with HBO by Academy Award-nominated and award-winning filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan, tells the story of the impact of McIver’s promise to care for her sister when their mother dies. The film played in festivals around the country and was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming.
McIver’s work is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the NCCU Museum of Art, the Asheville Museum of Art, The Crocker Art Museum, the Nelson Fine Arts Center Art Museum at Arizona State University, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, the Cameron Art Museum and the Mint Museum as well as significant corporate and private collections. McIver is currently the Ebenshade Professor of the Practice in Studio Arts At Duke University. She was the Suntrust Endowed Chair Professor of Art at North Carolina Central University, 2007-2014. Prior to this appointment, McIver taught at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. for twelve years, Duke University, North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University. She has also held residencies at many of the nation’s leading artist communities, including YADDO, the Headland Center for the Arts, Djerassi, and Penland School of Arts and Crafts. She has served on the board at Penland, and currently serves on the board of directors at YADDO in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Recent honors include a yearlong residency at the American Academy in Rome, where she was featured in a Beverly McIver e il colore ner, a documentary for Italian television. In 2017 she received the lifetime achievement award from the Anyone Can Fly Foundation in a ceremony hosted by Faith Ringgold. McIver was named as one of the “Top Ten in Painting” in Art in America in 2011, and her work has been reviewed in Art News, The New York Times and a host of local newspapers. She has received numerous grants and awards including the Anonymous Was A Woman Foundation grant, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard University, a Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation award, a distinguished Alumni Award from Pennsylvania State University, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and Creative Capital grant. She had a solo exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2011, and at the Mint Museum in 2012. During the fall of 2014, McIver was Artist-in-Residence at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation in Charlotte, N.C.
McIver received a master of fine arts degree in painting from Pennsylvania State University, and an honorary doctorate from North Carolina Central University.