Through their artistic practices Naava Guaraca, Eleisha McCorkle, and Tonisha McCorkle investigate their lived experiences through interior and exterior spaces. Hyperaware that most spaces are not inherently designed for Black and Brown women, each artist produces works that reclaim space and assert their agency.
Naava Guaraca locates herself in the world by seeking the familiar. Although a native New Yorker, Guaraca is deeply connected to her family’s hometown in Ecuador, where she returns often. As an inhabitant of public and private spaces in North and South America, Guaraca analyzes how the two cultures utilize space differently. For example, Guaraca notices an intense conflict exists between the man-made and natural environment in North America compared to South America. She investigates this conflicted relationship through the nuances of exterior and interior spaces. In Bedroom Scene (2020), a diptych, Guaraca melds interior and exterior worlds in her bedroom via the windows, which look out to her family’s hometown in Ecuador. This brings the harmony of the outside into her interior space. Guaraca purposefully utilizes a heightened color palette of green, pink, purple, orange, yellow, and red set against the cool gray walls and warm brown furniture to blur the line between reality and fantasy. When viewers look closely at the diptych, the traditional pictorial perspective is maintained; when viewers look at it from a distance, the perspective skews subtly as their eyes are drawn to the gap between the two panels. Guaraca’s painting physically materializes the safe haven that she carries in her mind as she moves through the world.
Twin sisters Eleisha and Tonisha McCorkle collaborate to produce interdisciplinary artworks that depict the reality of black life, particularly black women. Eleisha, skilled in drawing and digital art, and Tonisha, skilled in painting and ceramics, create work that pays homage to their past, chronicles traditions, and reinforces the relationship between blackness and rituals of haircare, spirituality, food, and healing. In their painting, EBT (Food Stamps) (2019), they recreate their old electronic benefits transfer card. The card number is the address where they lived with their mother after their father left her. The address also designates where the twins first discovered their creativity through cooking, a necessary skill they acquired early in life to help care for their mother and themselves. The name, FAITH’S HOPE, combines their middle names. The expiration date is the month and year of their mother’s passing from sarcoidosis, a rare lung disease, which accelerated after the twins’ birth. This date also marks the last time they were eligible for food stamps. While expressing a personal experience, EBT also highlights the importance of this welfare program that helps disenfranchised, marginalized, and disabled Americans. Their collaborative work highlights the inequities black people experience in America and celebrates the power and resiliency black women foster through important rituals.
Download the catalog entry for Inside/Outside [PDF]