Marla McLeod | We the People (Our Love Will See Us Through)

August 2 - October 29, 2021 

gold mannequin with a natural color cotton gown with black text and hand sewn details
The Kniznick Gallery is proud to present a solo exhibition by Connecticut-based artist Marla McLeod. “We the People (Our Love Will See Us Through)” touches on the diversity of McLeod’s practice, juxtaposing larger-than-life portrait painting with handmade textiles and garments. The exhibition explores the false and pervasive narratives surrounding Black bodies, while re-presenting the historical figures and characterizations of James Baldwin, W.E.B. Du Bois, and the harmful stereotype of the “mammy.” “We the People” populates the gallery and collective imagination with updated historical representations of the figures, featuring pronounced symbols of pride for Black Americans.

With large-scale presence, McLeod’s figurative oil paintings address the absence of Black women as the subject of paintings throughout Western art history. She pairs the portraits with textile pieces, inspired by techniques, symbols, and traditions of Mali mud cloths. In these works, the artist develops a visual language through delicate details and intricate beadwork to acknowledge each model’s nuanced cultural identity, including inscribed words of protection from their mothers.

McLeod’s research into the various figures and subjects that have influenced the work--drag and ballroom culture, African textiles, and Black identity in America--becomes a quest of cultural and familial lineage and the recognition of herself within it. Throughout the exhibition, fragments of text and quotations become mediums for self-empowerment for the artist and her viewers. The title references a song on Nina Simone’s 1964 album “Broadway-Blues-Ballads.” Simone sang, “If some tears come our way, the sun skips a day, we still have each other, and our love will see us through.” In the midst of the weighted histories that have contributed to generations of dangerous perceptions surrounding Black bodies, McLeod’s approach mirrors this signal of hope.


Virtual Artist Lecture | Marla McLeod

September 14, 2021

5:30 - 7 pm (EST)

Marla McLeod will discuss her work in "We the People (Our Love Will See Us Through)" and the concepts concepts embedded in her portrait paintings and hand-sewn garments on display. 

register for the virtual event