Valerie Gillespie and her husband Emmanuel are busy people. Besides being working artists, the two are also full time educators–Valerie is the Director of Visual & Performing Arts at the Winston School and Emmanuel is a 3D art instructor for Winston’s upper school.
If that weren’t enough, the two are also co-owners of Pencil on Paper in Farmers Branch, a gallery space that also offers art lessons and yoga classes for kids.
The gallery came about because the couple wanted to find a way to merge all of the things they loved in one place. Also, as a Black-owned gallery, they wanted to give exposure to artists that usually don’t have a platform.
“As an artist myself, I’ve noticed that it’s sometimes hard to get into galleries and have your work shown,” said Valerie. “We’re working really hard to make sure that we are a gallery that is open to everyone.”
In their new show, How We See, 14 artists were invited to share their perspective on life, making art, contemporary issues, or stories from their point of view.
“We wanted artists to respond to how they are viewing the world currently in our state of pandemic and under these unprecedented times. How they are, how they view things, how they see things,” said Valerie.
Works on display include portraitures, paintings, collage, work, graphic works, photography.
“It’s a variety of work,” said Valerie. “Breakfast in Clarksdale features an older gentleman in a truck stop eating breakfast. Lisa-Lin Burks has an abstract that is an acrylic pour on canvas. And we have more literal works like Demarcus McGaughey beautiful portrait of a woman with a halo in African attire. It’s a collage done with fabric, spray paint, and photography and it’s called I Am A Powerful, Confident, Creative Woman. And a favorite of a lot of our students that come to the gallery is Charles Gray’s image of himself on a bike. It’s an acrylic painting on top of a collage of Pokémon cards.”
Valerie says one of the most compelling pieces in the show is I Am Home, a famed photograph by Inyang Essien featuring the profile of a black woman staring off into the distance in front of the American flag.
“It’s striking and it makes you think. It’s one of those pieces that speaks to our political climate, but also maybe the state of Black culture in America. It has a lot going on, but I think that’s one of the pieces that we’re just so excited to see as well. It just make you stop in your tracks. It’s stunning.”
“I think the most exciting thing for us about this show is that I feel like it will be something that we can continue to do every year and that artists have something to look forward to and a chance to show in the space,” said Valerie. “I think it’s a great way to feature a variety of artists an in one show, and I like how open it is and inclusive.”
Participating Artists for How We See:
Afi Ese, Charles Gray, Demarcus McGaughey, Elizabeth Hudson, Inyang Essien, Jason Stallings, Jessica Baldivieso, Karl Melton, Lisa-Lin Burke, Marianne Howard, Michael E. Johnson, Taeesha Muhammad, Shauna Benoit, William Spencer
How We See is on display through April 9 with an artist reception on March 13. Gallery hours are Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. Masks are required. The gallery is following social distance guidelines by only allowing 15 visitors at a time in the space. If you don’t want to venture out, the gallery has everything online at pencilandpapergallery.com. Information can also be found on the gallery’s Instagram and Facebook pages.
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