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Jonathan Calm: Hands on the Wheel: African American (Auto)mobility in Space, Time and Mind
February 19 - April 16
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present our first solo exhibition with Bay Area-based artist Jonathan Calm. The images in this exhibit represent Calm’s ongoing project of exploring African American (Auto)mobility based on his documentation of sites listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book (1936-1966), the guidebook that referred travelers of color to safe and dignified accommodations during the final decades of the Jim Crow era. Calm’s perspective is both archival and imaginative, as he combines location and landscape photographs from across the country with carefully staged self-portraits, contextualized through historical reimagining.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 enhanced the risk factor around Calm’s cross-country travel, which led his approach to take a more introspective and personal turn. Inspired by stories from audience members of different age groups who attended presentations of his Green Book work, Calm has extended his spatial journey to an odyssey of time and mind. Rather than invoke a connotation of fear, Hands on the Wheel creates an empowering visual narrative that highlights continuity across generations of African American individuals and communities on the move.