By Nadvia Davis
Ten vibrant paintings sit on the white walls inside the event space, Public Functionary, 1400 12th Ave N.E. in Minneapolis.
One painting depicts a couple nestled on a bed holding their son. A second painting features a family of four sitting on a porch. These are everyday people, doing everyday things. Yet, there is one theme that all 10 paintings have in common – they are all interracial families.
These paintings are part of Minnesota artist Leslie Barlow’s exhibition, “Loving,” which was inspired by the Loving v. Virginia, U.S. Supreme Court case that prohibited laws banning interracial marriage. Mildred Loving, an African-American and Native-American woman and Richard Loving, a Caucasian male were the courageous couple behind this case.
“When ideating for how to create these works representing these families and their relationships, I realized that the combining of materials into a collaged quilt format would be a great metaphor for a coming together of different things to make a whole,” said Barlow, who is biracial.
Curator and co-director of Public Functionary, Tricia Khutoretsky played a key factor in getting Barlow’s large scale canvas’ on display.
“I was really excited to do the show with her. We started working together about a year ago. I would do regular studio visits with her,” said Khutoretsky.
“Public Functionary is an amazing space for emerging artists, and they take risks in the work they represent and the voices they elevate. Not to mention the gallery space is big and gorgeous,” said Barlow.
Both the “Loving” exhibition and 2016 biographical film have helped to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court case. Barlow said she hopes her works can shed some light on the struggles, positive relationships and importance of staying true to one’s identity in interracial relationships. She said most importantly she hopes this exhibition will continue the conversation of race relations in America.
“Once everything was finished and I saw my work in the gallery for the first time … man what an experience,” said Barlow.
This is Barlow’s first solo exhibition in Minneapolis. The “Loving” exhibition will runs through March 25. For more information, visit www.publicfuntionary.org.