Notes from VEGA is a solo exhibition by artist A.J. McClenon. The exhibition features work from McClenon’s ongoing VEGA series, imagining an aqueous Black future, parallel universes and an escape route fleeing from anti-Blackness, climate change and the destructive forces of capitalism and systemic racism. When the earth is no longer able to sustain their livelihoods and options are limited, they return to water—the source of life. Viewers are invited to take a glimpse into VEGA through sculptures, writings, diagrams, collages and videos that begun during McClenon’s 2019 residency at Hyde Park Art Center.
The exhibition is curated by Gervais Marsh, Curatorial Fellow, in collaboration with A.J. McClenon.
Image Below: A.J. McClenon, Deep Surface: Salivary Gland and Cornrow Map Study from page 885, 2021, mixed media collage/drawing, 32 x 27 x 4.5 inches inches
About A.J. McClenon
A.J. McClenon is a multi-disciplinary artist born and raised in Washington, DC and currently residing in Chicago. They earned an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2014). A.J. has performed and shown work throughout the US, at institutions including Steppenwolf, The Promontory, Woman Made Gallery, Echo Park Film Center, Chicago Filmmakers, Fine Art Complex 1101, and Longwood Arts Center. They are a co-founder of F4F, a domestic venue that cultivates a femme community, centers blackness, and expands upon understandings of what domestic space can be. A.J. was a participant in the HPAC Center Program and Residency in 2019.
McClenon is passionate about teaching and community collaborations with the goal that all the memories and histories that are said to have “too many Black people,” are told and retold again. As a means to uphold these stories, they create performances, installations, objects, sounds, visuals, and writings. These creations often revolve around an interest in water and aquatic life, escapism, Blackness, science, grief, US history, and the global future. A.J. is deeply invested in leveling the hierarchies of truth and using personal narrative to speak on political and cultural amnesia, and their absurdities.