Making Visible - Art, Activism & Archives ,The Studio Archives of Chire Regans & Loni Johnson

Dec 2 - Feb 2, 2020

WAAM is pleased to present Making Visible: Art, Activism & Archives, an exhibition that explores the interrelationships between art, archives and activist practices. This exhibition presents  the artist studio archives of two Miami-based artists, Loni Johnson and Chire Regans, whose art practices are rooted in social and restorative justice frameworks. Specifically, this exhibition makes visible the multifaceted ways in which art practices can create spaces for “remembrance” and “commemoration”. How do archives convey cultural memory? How does art engage with and create discussions surrounding the preservation of enduring historical and social concerns?  Ultimately, how do we  ‘read the past’ without access to the cultural records and memories that shape transformative art practices. In Making Visible, we journey alongside and into the interior landscapes of artist sketchbooks, diaries, journals, personal mementos, keepsakes, ephemera, artwork and other objects that bear witness to personal and community histories and become signifiers that gain meaning with each reading.  

In Chire Regan’s diary, we see the names of gun violence victims carefully handwritten, each name recorded with honorific details that enshrine the individual on every line on every page. This journal prefigures Regans art practice which is dedicated to the creation of a living archive that honors, commemorates and celebrates the lives of those who erased from community histories. From the present to the past, we see the artist as an archivist,  who ensures that no detail is forgotten.

In Loni Johnson’s sketches and journal entries, we are privy to the visual imaginaries that propose and visualize how Blackness inhabits space and moves throughout the confines and freedom of speculative vision-making. Organic forms, the utterance of words that define and delineate, and visual traces of ancestral and familial cornerstones are woven throughout Johnson’s archives. We see the articulation of a visual language that underscores the need for community rituals that at once commemorate, create continuity and preserve the lineage of cultural traditions from past into present.

Loni Johnson is a multi-disciplinary artist born and raised in Miami. Her work varies from
painting, drawing, and sculpture to performance and installation. Johnson uses her work to explore how Black women occupy spaces, redefining how Black women navigate spaces that were not created for them. She works through how they grieve, love, and feel. Johnson's performance and installation works focus on the reactivation of feelings of community as well as ancestral and historical memory. Johnson is an artist, an educator, a mother, and an activist that understands that as an artist, there is a cyclical obligation to give back and nurture her communities with her creative gift, utilizing it to better our world.

Chire Regans "VantaBlack,"  was born in Saint Louis, Missouri and lived there until her family relocated to Miami in the late 1980's. Crime was out of control in Saint Louis and Miami was viewed as a refuge of sorts by her mother. Her passion for art began soon after. After graduating from Florida A&M University, Regans began to focus primarily on drawing from life and portraiture. As societal issues began to weigh heavily on her conscience, a message took shape behind the imagery. The emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement pushed Regans' art in the direction of social awareness and change. In late February of 2016, a number of young people became victims of an ongoing epidemic of gun violence in Miami-Dade County. Driven by the need to bring awareness to this epidemic, Regans began a series of memorial portraits of victims of violence in Miami-Dade County and beyond. This series began with five portraits and now includes over 100 portraits of victims, and their stories.