Buried Beauty, Broken Block: Davey Friday & Roland Knowlden

Opening Friday, November 11th 5–9pm

Buried Beauty, Broken Block is an exhibition of works by two artists, who together span notions of black spatiality across two scales. From the micro, intimate features of the body, to the macro systems of a cityscape. The works in the show collage these elements through painting and drawing, to externalize the layered, yet often invisible tensions that exist between the black body and the spaces in which these two artists occupy. 

While Knowlden and Friday’s work expand outward in scale, they intersect at a specific geographical location. The Mecca Flats Building, which was once a black hub of Bronzeville and the center of Gwendolyn Brooks “In the Mecca”, was demolished to build Mies Van Der Rohe’s prized architecture school building, S.R. Crown Hall; where the two artists met. The influence of their architectural education is rooted in their spatial sensibilities to drawing and painting, but also to their adept vision to see and feel the stories that lie buried beneath the ground. It is through their individual techniques of reenvisioning those spatial realities, that the works allow for imaginative new connections and paths to emerge, amongst gestures and worlds. 

Roland Knowlden is a Liberian American interdisciplinary artist and architectural designer from New Jersey, currently based in Chicago, IL. Knowlden’s architectural background has cultivated his ongoing interest in constructed landscapes, city planning, and the cultural and social implications of racialized spatial mapping. Working across painting and drawing, Knowlden’s approach to abstract and experimental mapping articulates a visual language which makes visible the tensions wrought by erasure, displacement, and palimpsest.

Interrogating notions of origin, belonging, boundaries, and power, Knowlden’s critical cartography aims to not only reproduce existing environmental experiences and affects, but to propose new spatial realities. With each new configuration and composition, Knowlden furthers his practice of imagining otherwise.

Davey Friday is an artist and designer from the South Side of Chicago. The work he produces is greatly influenced by the city he grew up in as well as the subjects he studied on a collegiate and graduate level. Studying biology in undergrad and architecture/landscape architecture in graduate school, his work blends the inquisitiveness and experimentation he derived from biology with the drafting and compositional skills he developed studying architecture. His work is diverse and multiplicative. He doesn’t focus on one style, rather creating work that suits the vision he sees and emotes the feelings he aims to express. Predominantly, he works with charcoal, pastels, and graphite, leaning into his innate affinity to drawing.