February 14, 2024

“Transversing Nostalgia” on View at Arts Council

“WITH JOHN AND FLORENCE BROADWAY”: This acrylic on canvas painting by Onome Olutu is featured in “Transversing Nostalgia,” her dual exhibit with Chenelle René, on view through March 9 in the Arts Council of Princeton’s Taplin Gallery.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) presents “Transversing Nostalgia,” a dual exhibition by painters Onome Olotu and Chanelle René, on view in the ACP’s Taplin Gallery through March 9.

Working with personal and sourced archives, Olotu and René take a drive down memory lane, reminiscing intimate connections that allow the past to speak to the present and future.

Of her work in “Transversing Nostalgia,” Olotu said, “In this ‘Postcards’ subseries, my artistic process involved the idea of exploring time and memory by recomposing figures, objects, and landscapes from personal archives and sourced archives from the Historical Society of Princeton and residents of the Witherspoon-Jackson community in Princeton and with that, I was able to interact, interview, and hear stories of Black families who have lived in Princeton, going back four generations and more. I have had the opportunity of being part of their history by inserting parts of myself into the lives of these families through my paintings.”

Olotu was born in 1993 in Lagos, Nigeria. She studied painting at the University of Benin. After graduation, she worked as a curatorial assistant at the National Gallery of Art, Abuja, and later as an art teacher before taking on full time studio practice at the Universal Studios of Art, Lagos, in 2018. Working predominantly in charcoal and acrylics, her work engages personal family and institutional archives to respond to social and political events. Her works have been exhibited across Nigeria and recently in Canada at the exhibition “Sankofa: African Routes, Canadian Roots” at the Museum of Anthropology, the University of British Colombia, Vancouver, Canada. She lives and works between Lagos and Princeton. The Arts Council featured Onome as an artist-in-residence in the spring of 2023.

René said, “My ‘Grant Street Beach’ series debuts over 10 paintings that journey the segregated beach of Cape May, New Jersey. Working from my own family’s photographs and those of other Black families, these works depict joyful, everyday moments of African American beach goers in Cape May from the 1920s through the 1960s. Energetic mark making in stark contrast with detailed figures dressed in dual-tone color done in oil and mixed media allow the past to speak to the present. Each work explores the complexity and nuance of the human spirit while celebrating generations of Black beach goers as they transition from segregation to making Grant Street Beach a tradition of choice.”

René is a New Jersey-based, award-winning painter who uses bold color and painterly brush strokes to create soulful portraits in oils and mixed media. Her work centers on women of color as she explores themes of diverse beauty, freedom and self-discovery. She is a self-taught artist who, at age 43, transitioned from a career in digital marketing to full-time painter. Awarded Best of Show at Ocean City Arts Center 2021 Annual Juried Art Show, René has exhibited widely throughout southern New Jersey and in global virtual exhibitions. Select media features include The Curator’s Salon, Cape May Magazine, and Soup Can Magazine.

The ACP is at 102 Witherspoon Street. It is free and open to the public. For more information, visit artscouncilofprinceton.org.