The University at Buffalo Art Galleries presents “Heather Hart: Afroctecture (Re)Collection”

Through large-scale sculptural installations of rooftops and porches, Heather Hart transforms exhibition spaces into interactive sites, inviting visitors to contemplate what it means to create a black space of joy and reflection. Growing up with a carpenter father, she witnessed how wood can delineate and frame spaces, and how those spaces become containers of social relationships and memories.

In the exhibition Heather Hart: Afrotecture (Re)Collection at UB Art Galleries, the artist’s sculptural installation “Sweet Lorraine” (2021) explores a space that is neither fully interior nor exterior: a balcony. The artwork “quotes” directly – to use Hart’s word – the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

By recreating a section of this historic balcony, Hart hopes to inspire viewers to question the mutability of architecture’s function and meaning, as well as its role in invoking past struggles among current struggles. How do we commemorate a person or an event through the creation of places? How do you build a space large enough to hold a traumatic past that can also harbor joy and foster encouragement for the work ahead?

This exhibition is an invitation to reflect on a balcony that exists in our collective psyche and memory, as well as in concrete form in Memphis. Where these reflections take us is part of the ongoing struggle to move forward as a people, guided by shared stories and inspirations for the changes to come.

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Heather Hart: Afrotecture (Re)Collection is curated by Liz Park, Curator of Exhibitions, UB Art Galleries. Design and construction assistance was provided by Assembly House 150, Buffalo, NY. This project is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Mildred D. Field