Alexis Pye You really livin: A world that was always full of yellow sun, green trees, a blue sea and black people

February 3, 2023 – March 11, 2023 John M. O'Quinn Gallery
Images courtesy of Ronald L. Jones

About the Exhibition

In You really livin: A world that was always full of yellow sun, green trees, a blue sea and black people, Alexis Pye presents a series of paintings in John M. O’Quinn Gallery. These works reflect on people from her community, using lush greenery in place of relationship and gender, as informed by Jamaica Kincaid’s writing in On the Necessity of Gardening: An ABC of Art, Botany and Cultivation (Valiz 2021).

In this article, Kincaid relates garden cultivation to cultivation of self, community, and place, reflecting on her own memories of the Dominican Republic as “a world that was always full of yellow sun, green trees, a blue sea and black people.” In Pye’s words, this exhibition’s title similarly references “the yellow sun that seemed to peek out of the cloudy overcast days in Detroit, lush trees that lined neighborhoods and took over abandoned houses, the blue water of Bel Isle,” and the community of people who have gone in and out of Pye’s life. Communities depicted in these paintings include where Pye grew up–Detroit’s suburbs, the Midwest, California–and Houston, where Pye has spent her early adulthood. Throughout these homes, the artist muses that “what remains the same is the sky, bodies of water, and the people who poured into [her].”

You can listen to Alexis Pye’s playlist that inspired You really livin: A world that was always full of yellow sun, green trees, a blue sea and black people here.

About the Artist

Alexis Pye explores the tradition of painting as a way to express the Black body outside of its social constructs, evoking playfulness, wonder, and blackness, as well as the joys amidst adversity. Pye received her BFA in Painting from the University of Houston in 2018. In 2018, she was selected as a Summer Studios Resident and for Round 51: Local Impact II at Project Row Houses. Her work was featured in Everything’s Gonna be Alright Now, a 2019 group exhibition of young artists at David Shelton Gallery, curated by Robert Hodge. Pye received the Juror’s Choice Prize for the 20th Annual Citywide African American Artists Exhibition held at Texas Southern University in 2019, selected by Kanitra Fletcher.

In 2021, her work was included in the group exhibitions My Mirror Is Just Fine curated by Miles Payne at the Community Artists Collective (Houston) and Honor Thyself curated by Mueni Loko Rudd at Martha’s Contemporary (Austin). Her work was also in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s  2021 staff exhibition and she has collaborated with the Houston Rockets x CAMH at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 2022. Pye lives and works in Houston, TX. She is represented by Inman Gallery, with recent exhibitions including her first solo exhibition, The Real and the Fantastic/The Irrational Joys of the Axis (2021), and group exhibition Animal Crossing (2020).

Featured image: Self Portrait (2021). Oil, oil pastel, and oil stick on canvas. Image courtesy of the collection of Drs Annette and Anthony Brissett and family, and Inman Gallery.

About the Artist Studio Program

Established in 2006, the Artist Studio Program offers residencies to Texas-based artists who are developing their artistic practice. Once selected, residents receive a monthly stipend, materials allowance, and 24-hour access to a private studio. Lawndale also provides residents with access to a welcoming and vibrant community of working artists, curators, critics, and patrons of contemporary art. Throughout the nine-month residency, the artists work closely with each other and Lawndale staff on the development and production of new work that will be exhibited at Lawndale in the spring. 

Major support for the Artist Studio Program is provided by Kathrine G. McGovern/The John P. McGovern Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.