The Kehler Liddell Gallery is honored to present NEW HAVEN’S OWN WINFRED REMBERT, featuring stories of African American lives in the Deep South during the era of segregation, boldly told on hand-tooled, dyed leather, on exhibit from Thursday, July 31- Sunday, August 31 at Kehler Liddell’s Westville storefront gallery. An Opening Reception will be held on Sunday, August 3, from 3:00-6:00pm, and there will be two screenings of the award-winning documentary ALL ME: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert, to be held at the gallery on August 16 and August 21 at 7:00pm. The August 16 screening will be followed by a discussion with the artist and the film’s director Vivian Ducat. On August 21, Rembert will do a carving demonstration at 6:00pm, prior to the screening. Both the exhibit and screenings are free and open to the public.
The show, organized by Kehler Liddell Gallery member artists Marjorie Wolfe and Hank Paper, provides an opportunity to see and hear, first-hand, the story of this remarkable man’s journey from a boy growing up picking cotton in Cuthbert, Georgia, to a young man protesting segregation in Americus, GA in the 1960s, as well as his transformation from a victim of racial injustice and bigotry to a renowned folk artist and raconteur.
“I wanna see things like they were,” Rembert explains in All Me. “They just don’t look the same so all it is now is a memory and that’s why I’m happy that I did these paintings and things…it was just good. It ain’t like that no more. You have to kinda use your imagination.”
It’s not hard to use your imagination when you see the detailed characters and scenes that call out from Rembert’s art. Using a technique he learned while serving time in a Georgia prison, Rembert hand tools and dyes his leather with bold and evocative images. Using color, texture and patterns—and highly individualized renderings of human faces—he tells stories of his time spent working in the cotton fields, serving on a chain gang, his near lynching, dancing in juke joints and participating in other facets of daily life in the rural south.
His art is “narrative on leather,” says Yale University Art Gallery Director Jock Reynolds in the documentary. It was his “wonderful sense of color” especially that inspired Reynolds to organize the show “Southern Exposure” at the Yale Art Gallery in 2000, which was Winfred’s first big break.
Since then, Rembert’s art has been shown at a number of other venues, including galleries in New York City and Albany, Georgia, as well as a series of major museums in a two-year long tour which included the Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery, Alabama, the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, outside New York City and the Flint Institute of Arts outside Detroit. He is the author of the children’s book Don’t Hold Me Back: My Life and Art, and in 2011, was featured in the documentary ALL ME: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert. He currently lives and works in Newhallville with his family, and spends a portion of his time working with school children telling his stories and teaching his craft.
“We’re excited to present this special exhibit of Winfred’s art,” says Hank Paper. “It’s a great opportunity to see these unique, brilliantly colored, eye-popping, often densely populated ‘canvases’ of black urban scenes and southern cotton fields. They are full of life and the struggle for it."
You can learn more about Winfred, his art, and the documentary at www.allmethemovie.com.