Ella West Gallery opens August 19 with inaugural exhibition celebrating Black artistic expression

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Ella West Gallery opens August 19 with inaugural exhibition celebrating Black artistic expression
This exhibition marks a significant milestone for Ella West Gallery as it endeavors to create a vibrant artistic space that champions underrepresented artists and cultivates a new era in the world of art.



DURHAM, NC.- Ella West Gallery opened in downtown Durham with the launch of its inaugural exhibition Return to Parrish Street: A Dream Realized. The gallery showcases extraordinary new works from North Carolina artists Kennedi Carter and Clarence Heyward and North Carolina native Ransome, and honor the legacy of its location in the heart of Durham’s Black Wall Street.

Dedicated to the memory of iconic artist and Durham native Ernie Barnes (American, 1938–2009), the exhibition opens with works on view by the celebrated late artist in conversation with new photography and paintings available for purchase by Carter and Heyward; portraiture by Ransome will be added September 11. These works probe perception, identity, and vulnerability, creating a visual dialogue around dreams and destiny.

Return to Parrish Street: A Dream Realized is on view through October 21, 2023, offering budding and established art collectors and enthusiasts a unique opportunity to access these internationally acclaimed artists.

This exhibition marks a significant milestone for Ella West Gallery as it endeavors to create a vibrant artistic space that champions underrepresented artists and cultivates a new era in the world of art. Nestled within the heart of Black Wall Street’s Parrish Street in the building that once housed the printing presses of The Durham Reformer, a 1920s-era Black newspaper, the gallery is poised to act again as a destination for raising marginalized voices.

Return to Parrish Street: A Dream Realized reflects gallery founder Linda Shropshire’s mission to amplify diverse voices and provide a platform for emerging and established regional, national, and international artists.

“Return to Parrish Street: A Dream Realized looks both backward and forward, celebrating generations of Black achievement while working to nurture the artistic growth of a new class of artists poised to shape the future of art history,” said Shropshire, a longtime collector and arts advocate. “Through their distinct art practices, Ernie Barnes, Kennedi Carter, Clarence Heyward, and Ransome express a sense of agency and autonomy that embodies the spirit of Ella West Gallery and more importantly, the neighborhood the gallery calls home.”

Photographer Kennedi Carter (American, b.1998) creates lush images that celebrate beauty, the body, and Blackness. After honing her skills as a celebrated editorial fashion photographer working with British Vogue, Essence, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times, Carter’s fine art practice explores the aesthetics of the Black quotidian, capturing the unexpected, unknown, and unimaginable slices of life that she finds tucked away in the corners of society often overlooked, and aims to reinvent notions of creativity and confidence in the realm of Blackness. She lives in Durham.

Clarence Heyward (American, b.1983) is a painter and collagist whose work explores notions of the Black American experience through his dynamic and fresh take on figurative art, investigating cultural truths, challenging stereotypes, and questioning identity. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Heyward relocated to North Carolina to study art education at North Carolina Central University.

He has shown his work at venues including the 21c Museum of Durham, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for Cultural Arts, the Block Gallery in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and (CAM) the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh. Heyward was the recipient of The Brightwork Fellowship residency at Anchorlight, Raleigh in 2020, the Emerging Artist in Residence at Artspace, Raleigh in 2021, and was the 2022 Artist in Residence at North Carolina State University. His work is in the collections of several notable private and public institutions, including a recent acquisition by the North Carolina Museum of Art. He currently lives and works in Raleigh.

Artist and illustrator Ransome (American, b.1961) fuses together the tactile patchwork motifs of rural quilters with the rhythm and spontaneity of hip-hop DJs. His expansive portfolio is cinematically colored and richly layered; household names like Harriet Tubman and Serena Williams share focus with everyday working heroes, intertwining the narratives and references of Black history across the canvas with every stroke.

The Rich Square, North Carolina native graduated from the Pratt Institute in addition to receiving a Master of Fine Arts from Lesley University. He is a recipient of The Hudson Valley Artists Annual Purchase Award from the Dorsky Museum and has exhibited his work in the Katonah Museum of Art, The Sigal Museum of Easton, Pennsylvania, The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) Museum of Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the Visual Art Center of New Jersey. The View from Here was his first solo exhibit which opened in 2020 at the historic Barrett Art Center. Say It Loud at the Elaine Bailey Augustine Gallery at the University of North Alabama, Alabama, and Harmony of Difference at the Alpha Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts, both opened in 2022. He was awarded the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration and IBBY Honor Award for children’s books The Creation and Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. Ransome lives in Rhinebeck, New York.










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