The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

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Important Update

April 7, 2024 to October 20, 2024 | Opatrny Vestibule, Opatrny Gallery, Sound Gallery

Layo Bright: Dawn and Dusk

"I'm inspired by our unique backgrounds, the current times we live in, the fragility of life, and the resilience to survive while navigating complex issues that seem to define us." - Layo Bright

Dawn and Dusk is Layo Bright’s first solo museum exhibition featuring new and borrowed works in glass and pottery made between 2019 and 2024. The show brings together several ongoing series tracking Bright’s synchronized jumps from figuration to abstraction. Working in the round, on the wall, and in relief, Bright’s practice centers narratives of ancestry, feminism, mass migration, and the African diaspora. She cites her matrilineal heritage, Nigerian Ife bronze heads and West African textiles, as well as contemporary artists Simone Leigh, Kara Walker, Wangechi Mutu, Fred Wilson, and Alison Saar as her inspirations.

Bright chooses materials that express geopolitical and biographical resonance to spotlight themes of matriarchy and migration. Her portraits in blown and kiln-formed glass and pottery are tributes to the women in her life. The origin of the exhibition’s title can be found in two blown glass busts, each named Dawn or Dusk, of a singular woman. This series, begun shortly after the murder of Breonna Taylor, honors female Black power in the wake of historic injustice. Bright adorns her ceramics with gele, West African head ties, symbols of beauty and culture. The handed down fabrics personify the memories of friends and family, advancing their stories forward. Her glass paintings, composed in panels, merge kiln-fused glass with grounds covered in Ghana-must-go bags (named after the 1983 decree that forced Ghanian immigrants from Nigeria), cheap woven nylon totes that characterize forced exodus and consider global displacement. Also included in the exhibition is The Thorns and Roses, 2022, a working fountain blown in a luminous black glass. Water in Yoruba culture is the dominion of the spirits, a liminal space where life and death coalesce. Bright’s newest glass works allude to masks and caryatids. As homages to women in the artist’s community and family, each is encircled by a lavish arrangement of cast glass flowers native to Nigeria. The sumptuous blossoms spread out of the frame and onto the wall, demonstrations of the bounty and fortitude of sisterhood.

This exhibition is curated by Amy Smith-Stewart, Chief Curator. It will be accompanied by a catalogue, the artist’s first institutional publication, which will include images of the works on view, installation views, and an essay by the curator.

About the Artist

Layo Bright was born in 1991 in Lagos, Nigeria and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received a law degree from Babcock University in 2014 and an MFA from the Parsons School of Design in 2018. Her work has appeared at venues including the Museum of Glass, Tacoma; moniquemeloche, Chicago; Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Welancora Gallery, New York; Mike Adenuga Centre, Lagos, Nigeria; Parts & Labor, New York; Meyerhoff Gallery at MICA, Baltimore; Mana Contemporary, Chicago; Smack Mellon, New York, among others. She is the recipient of awards including the Ron Desmett Award for Imagination in Glass, UrbanGlass Visiting Artist and Designer Fellowship, the International Sculpture Center’s 2018 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award (2018), and the Beyoncé Formation Finalist Scholarship (2017). She has attended residencies at Urban Glass, New York; Tyler School of Glass, Philadelphia; Art Cake, New York; NXTHVN, New Haven; Triangle, New York; Flux Factory, New York; The Studios at Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA; among others.

Top image: Layo Bright, Bloom in Spring Green & Purple, 2023, 21 x 17.5 x 5 inches, Kiln formed glass. Courtesy of the artist