Adrienne Walker Hoard, “Ancestral Soiree”
A dramatic new series of 15 hand-painted photographs by Kansas City artist Adrienne Walker Hoard is featured in a surprising and luminous solo exhibition, “LOVE is a Body in Motion,” at the Kansas City Artists Coalition’s Snap Space through March.
Hoard is an accomplished painter, photographer, jeweler and scholar whose multifaceted work centers on translating visual stories. She has worked internationally and is Professor Emeritus of Visual Art/Black Studies at UMKC. Her work takes us on journeys with lasting power. “My mission as an artist is to connect the viewer to the feeling of that moment in time captured through my tangible expression,” she writes in her artist statement.
“LOVE is a Body in Motion” was created between 2020-23 and stems from original photographs Hoard took at an annual Spring Dance Troupe performance at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. The work is like a lyrical love letter dancing on the walls of the Snap Space in a fluid combination of expressive painting, drawing and photography, and is markedly different from previous work, including her powerful photographic series from 1996 – 2013 documenting transformations of art, culture and life among the Ndebele Indigenous people of South Africa.
Yet, despite the visual and emotive distinctions, Hoard’s interest in Indigenous history, authentic stories, patterns, and revealing the “signature energy” of her subjects shines through in “LOVE is a Body in Motion.” In a recent email, Hoard explained that she planned to photograph the dance performance but didn’t anticipate it leading to this series of hand-painted photographs. “Once I printed the images, I knew I had to apply more marks to express the joy, rhythmic movement and sensual forms created in the close and distant interactions between the dancing costumed pairs.”
Hoard augmented the original archival inkjet prints with expressive mark-making and flowing, luminous color using acrylic paint, oil pastel, and metallic ink. The effect electrifies and animates the figures upon soft, black grounds in a connective, theatrical tenebrism and flow while also revealing distinctions within Hoard’s depictions of energy and movement.
“Fire Dance” and “Flame Duet,” both from 2020, are intensely luminous with nebulous bodies emanating electric, white-hot light and appearing other-worldly. “The Visitation,” also 2020, is a more precise portrayal with strokes of red, punctuations of gold and flares of blue accentuating the dancer’s gesture and patterned, flowing garment.
Other works, including “Three Some” (2022) and “The Chase” (2023), exude fervent dynamism with fiery red sweeps enveloping and trailing from the dancers like light-tracers. Hoard’s iridescent marks depicting texture and pattern provide a counterbalance, drawing attention to the work’s surface and compositional space. In contrast, “The Guardian” and “Embraced” (both 2022), capture an instant of intense focus and passion between a pair of dancers, offering a bold blend of luminosity and movement.
“Ancestral Soirée” (2022) and “Four Hand Play” (2023) veer further into figurative abstraction, each with full-bodied compositions and expressive mark-making that stand out in the show and perhaps hint at another fascinating tangent for Hoard to explore. With each piece being 16 x 19”, it’s fun to imagine this work on a larger scale.
“Adrienne Walker Hoard: LOVE is a Body in Motion” continues at the Kansas City Artists Coalition’s Snap Space, 3200 Gillham Rd., through March 31. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday. For more information, 816.421-5222 or kansascityartistscoalition.org.