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6 Local Female Artists Tell Their Stories Through Art at {neighborhood} for Black History Month

Two pieces by local artist Ari Brielle titled "Altar" at {neigbhorhood}.EXPAND
Two pieces by local artist Ari Brielle titled "Altar" at {neigbhorhood}.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
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There’s a strong, beautiful energy inside the walls of the Design District’s showroom and gallery store {neighborhood}. After moving into this space from their original spot in Bishop Arts District, and a low-key 2020, the owners of {neighborhood} will host art shows throughout the year. The first offers works from six local female artists honoring Black History Month with a show titled Tellin’ Our Stories, a reference to a Stacey Abrams quote.

All of the art is captivating, stunning, but set as part of living space; one can sense how the stories could become part of a home. Neighborhood's 8,000-square-foot space, which has a modern desert vibe, serves as the perfect functional demonstration for the pieces as opposed to a bare gallery.

Meet each artist and take a look at some of their artwork:

In Molly Sydnor's pieces here, the viewer's reflection makes them part of the story.
In Molly Sydnor's pieces here, the viewer's reflection makes them part of the story.
Lauren Drewes Daniels

Molly Margaret Sydnor is a fabric and textile artist whose work was showcased at Sweet Tooth Hotel last year. Her theme for this show reflects her struggle to reconcile her own identity; while her mother is white, her father is the direct descendant of enslaved people, leaving her to jostle with a mix of identities; a prevalent theme in her work. Her textiles line the front room; further back, two pieces read “NOT WHITE” and “TOO BLACK.” Both have a glossy overcoat, giving the work the unintended consequence of self-reflection, a quality Sydnor says aligns perfectly with the message.

From Desiree Vaniecia's Been On My Way collectionEXPAND
From Desiree Vaniecia's Been On My Way collection
Lauren Drewes Daniels

Desiree Vaniecia is a contemporary painter whose work “pays homage to her family and their legacy.” She has four minimalist composition pieces in the gallery along one wall; the posture, strength and warmth of the female figure in the paintings cast energy over the space. She recently wrote on her Instagram account regarding a pop-up installation at Plano's Legacy West, "I wanted this piece to be a reminder that go with the vibes you get. Your greatest idea is typically your first and to always follow it. Energy doesn’t lie."

The multi-talented local artist Sam Lao's work at {neighborhood}.EXPAND
The multi-talented local artist Sam Lao's work at {neighborhood}.
Lauren Drewes Daniels

One of Dallas’ undisputed favorite hip-hop artists, Sam Lao is also a successful painter and textile artist. In March she told us, “Making has no limits for me. I make what I want as the desire and idea strikes me, and it’s wonderful when it resonates with others.” Her wall rugs at {neighborhood} are titled "Muse" and "The Watcher." Initially, her work was intended to be a nod to plague masks of the past and to our own modern-day plague. "However, the figures in my work that wear them represent muses, the physical embodiment of inspiration, of an idea," Lao says. "The intersection of these two seemingly opposing images represents both life and death, how an idea can be infectious and all-consuming, how it could die with you if you take no action or leave a lasting impression even after you’re gone."

Niki Dionne's art includes both fiber and paintings, as shown here.EXPAND
Niki Dionne's art includes both fiber and paintings, as shown here.
Lauren Drewes Daniels

Niki Dionne is an illustrator, painter and fiber artist, whose work was part of the Intangible installation at Sweet Tooth Hotel last year. Her collection at {neighborhood} is multidisciplinary, a mix of paint and fabric. "With this collection, I pushed my depiction of these women to take new forms through knitted pieces," Dionne says. "I really wanted to emphasize that Black women are not a monolith. We take many forms, come from many different backgrounds and yet I can't help but feel, are all still connected through our different paths."

Abi Salami's work (left) "Africa on My Heart and the World in My Hands," (right) "Love, Me (Flourish)."EXPAND
Abi Salami's work (left) "Africa on My Heart and the World in My Hands," (right) "Love, Me (Flourish)."
Lauren Drewes Daniels

Abi Salami was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and committed to painting full-time after earning her MPA in accounting from UT Austin. Last year, Salami was chosen as a Saatchi Art Rising Star, one of 35 artists under 35 years old. She seeks to capture everyday life “specifically with the aim of destigmatizing mental illness in African communities.” The result simply stunning.

Ari Brielle's "Altar" (self) featured as part of the Tellin' Our Stories collection at {neighborhood}.
Ari Brielle's "Altar" (self) featured as part of the Tellin' Our Stories collection at {neighborhood}.
Lauren Drewes Daniels

From Ari Brielle's website: “Going to vigils over the years and seeing flowers, fruit, photos, and candles set up as altars to honor those whose lives had been taken at the hands of police, I began to think of the Black femme body as an altar. I am an altar.” Brielle used gouache and acrylic for these pieces creating up-close details that are as captivating as zoomed-out symbolism. The strength felt in Altar is as intimidating as it is inviting.

All of the artwork is for sale. High ceilings and 8,000 square feet allow for plenty of socially distanced gazing. The show will last through Feb. 28.

{neighborhood} 2532 Converse St. (Design District), neighborhood-store.com, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday

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