Julia Brown American Vernacular
3 June – 2 September 2023

Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens

The films, paintings, and photography of Baltimore-based artist Julia Brown have long explored ways of making visible latent social conflicts. Often employing modes of abstraction, Brown centres on the body as a boundary between a person and its other, which when crossed can become a connection or transgression.

With her film American Vernacular, Brown continues this investigation. In six scenes, set in period rooms, pairs enact the functions of historical “Black Americana" or “Black Collectible" objects. Popularized beginning in the early 20th century, after the end of legal slavery, these mass-produced decor items depict Black people as collectible household implements. In Brown's film, these objects are reanimated within relationships, and the actors alternate in embodying the objects and the objects' handlers. These acts of personification unveil the fantasies, desires, and violence embedded in the racial imaginary that persists to this day.