FRYE ART MUSEUM, Seattle WA – Jan 30 – April 25, 2021
by Matthew Kangas
Part of an ongoing series of exhibitions spotlighting African American artists, Anastacia-Reneé: (Don’t be Absurd) Alice in Parts takes on painting, sculpture, installation art, poetry, video and found objects with a vengeance, alerting viewers to the displacement of marginalized ethnic groups in Seattle’s innercity neighborhood.
Anastacia-Reneé, an interdisciplinary, multimedia artist, has been widely published and has participated in national art residencies. At the Frye, she is creating walk-through spaces that represent the about-to-be-gentrified house of Alice Metropolis, the artist’s alter ego. According to associate curator David Strand, Alice “strives for wholeness and transcendence against … forms of systemic oppression that … fracture her sense of self.” The immersive installation draws attention to Alice’s writings, collections, clothing and other personal detritus connected to long-term domestic settings. One inspiration is the late Black lesbian author and activist Audre Lorde (1934-1992), who dedicated her life to fighting injustice.
As the rooms reveal themselves, visitors overhear uncomfortably intimate confessions, tirades, and witty repartee reflecting on Alice’s predicament: how to survive as an artist, a woman and sexual minority in urban settings wherein older racial communities are alternately cosseted by white cultural elites and shoved out of affordable housing. With housing prices rising 10% per year, and average rents now approaching $3,000 per month, Seattle’s vaunted hospitality for artists of all colors is now seriously in question.
Housing crisis is presented here as personal crisis. “Alice’s home is a place of refuge and nightmares.” Her “spiritual sanctuary” can only temporarily stave o reality, as she hovers in an environment of poetic mystery, rage and wry humor.