Love is a House that Even Death Can’t Knock Down mk, Irene Antonia Diane Reece, and Jamie Robertson

September 17, 2022 – December 10, 2022 John M. O'Quinn Gallery

About the Exhibition

Love is a House That Even Death Can’t Knock Down is a photo-based exhibition that celebrates the sacredness of Black life through the veneration of family archives. This group exhibition is organized by and features the work of mk, Irene Antonia Diane Reece, and Jamie Robertson. Each artist works with their respective family archives as the grounding element of their creative practice. Collectively, their works address themes of life, death, and memory in relation to a Southern Black experience. The Gulf Coast landscape connects the creative practices of these three families and, while each uses photographic imagery, the exhibition is a multi-sensory experience including smell, sound, and installation elements.

mk’s The View Inside a Casket includes larger-than-life reproductions of their family archives accompanied by familiar objects, floral arrangements, and dirt. This work investigates coping mechanisms within the last remaining family archives of mk’s family and calls attention to their uprooted deep southern background in relation to the practices of memorial, forgiveness, and celebration. Since 2019, Reece’s Home-goings is a continuation project using church objects, Black archives, and text to create a space for protection, memory, and celebration of Black lives. The layered metaphors and messages convey that Black lives are sacred, celebrated, and will be fought for in this space. Robertson presents works from her series Charting the Afriscape of Leon County, Texas. Pairing her family archive with her own photographs, these works are an autobiographical meditation and documentation of Black landscapes in rural East Texas. Robertson states, “Growing up in Southeast Texas in a Black family, history was not relegated to events of the past. History was alive and in time with me. This aliveness guides my practice as my work bridges the distance between the past and present through the adoption of ancestral knowledge systems as an organizing principle.”

Together, mk, Reece, and Robertson explore relationships that folds time and space, part of the larger narrative and documentation of Black subjectivity in Texas and the Gulf Coast.

Featured images, left to right:
Jamie Roberston, Reconnected (Grandma, Aunt Gwen, Aunt Henran & Millicent), Buffalo, Texas (2020), Inkjet print, 11 x 14 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

mk, The View Inside a Casket (2020), Gilded archival inkjet print, flowers, dirt, dimensions variable. Images courtesy of Ronald L. Jones.

Irene Antonia Diane Reece, “Yall Are Still Trying to Hide Racism” , “The Reece’s” (2020), Inkjet print on church fan. Images courtesy of Ronald L. Jones.

Irene Antonia Diane Reece, Call and Response (2021), salt word art. Image courtesy of Ronald L. Jones.
Irene Antonia Diane Reece, In Remembrance of Me (2021), artificial flowers, inkjet print, church fans, kneeler bench, and cross. Image courtesy of Ronald L. Jones.

About the Artists

mk is an artist living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 2017, they received their BFA in Photography and Digital Media from the University of Houston and are currently attending the University of New Mexico for their MFA in Photography. They are originally from a small rural town by the name of Sulligent, Alabama, a driving force for their work. They work in a variety of mediums ranging from photography, printmaking, and sculpture to pursue and question their upbringing, identity, family, and the terms of loss and memory. They have shown at institutions such as the Blaffer Art Museum, The National Hispanic Cultural Center, and SITE Santa Fe.

Irene Antonia Diane Reece identifies as a contemporary artist and visual activist. Born and raised in Houston, Texas. She earned her BFA in Photography and Digital Media (Houston, TX) and MFA in Photography and Image-making (Paris, France). Reece’s photographic works, Black family archives, appropriated films, usage of text, and found objects create an insight into her world. The topics surrounding her work are racial identity, African diaspora, social injustice, family histories, re-memory, mental and community health. Reece’s objectives are to continue to take up space, be outspoken about the white-centric art world, and create forms of racial equity within her communities.

Reece has exhibited in a solo exhibition at Galveston Arts Center (Galveston, TX). Group exhibitions: Openwalls Arles (Arles, FR), Vogue Festival at BASE MILANO (Milan, IT), Texas Biennial, and, recently, Dak’Art: La Biennale de Dakar, Black Rock 40 curated by Kehinde Wiley (Dakar, Senegal). Awards include: 2022 C/O Berlin Talent Award: Shortlist, The 30: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch, and MACK Books – First Book Award Shortlist: Billie-James.  Her work has been featured in New York Times, Art Papers, OVER Journal, Lenscratch, FOAM Magazine, and The Photographer’s Green Book. Additionally with editorial contributions for ProPublica and a contributor for ‘You Are Your Best Thing’ Anthology by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown. This fall she will be exhibiting at FOTODOK (Utrecht, Netherlands) and Taymour Grahne Projects (London, UK).

Jamie Robertson is a visual artist and educator from Houston, Texas. She earned a BA in Art and MFA in Studio Art from the University of Houston. She also holds an MS in Art Therapy from Florida State University. She is a former recipient of the American Art Therapy Association’s Pearlie Roberson Award and Red Bull Arts Microgrant. Robertson is also one half of the podcast Where I See Me, which examines the presence of Black and Brown people in comics and media. Her creative practice is rooted in the recollection of the personal and collective histories of the African Diaspora through lens-based media; with a focus on the Gulf South. Her work was featured in FORECAST 2021: SF Camerawork’s Annual Survey Exhibition, Flatland Film Festival, Art League Houston, Florida A&M University Foster-Tanner Fine Arts Gallery, 516 Arts, and internationally at Contemporary Calgary in Exposure Photography Festival in Canada. Her photobook Charting the Afriscape of Leon County, TX was published in December 2020 with Fifth Wheel Press. She currently works as a Lecturer at Sam Houston State University.

About the Writer

Ariana Brown is the author of We Are Owed. (Grieveland, 2021) and Sana Sana (Game Over Books, 2020). She holds a B.A. in African Diaspora Studies and Mexican American Studies, an M.F.A. in Poetry, and an M.S. in Library Science. Find her at, @ArianaThePoet, and living her life in Houston, TX.