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Diedrick Brackens

Diedrick Brackens: ark of bulrushes

Feb 20 - Aug 22, 2021

ark of bulrushes presents a new body of work by artist Diedrick Brackens that includes handwoven tapestries and sculptural weavings.


Diedrick Brackens: ark of bulrushes presents a new series by Los Angeles-based artist Diedrick Brackens including large-scale weavings and premiering the artist’s first woven sculptures. Known for making colorful textiles about African American and queer histories, Brackens has developed a process of combining the tactility of yarn with the ethos of storytelling. For this exhibition, the artworks tell timeless narratives about emancipation and remediation through pattern, body, and the power of craft.

Brackens’ deeply colored weavings pull imagery from 19th century Freedom Quilts—used to communicate with enslaved people traveling along the Underground Railroad—and star constellations that have been used to navigate the external world and internal psyche for thousands of years. The central focus of Brackens’ artwork always returns to the Black body represented in form or implied in absence. Intertwined with the patterns are dynamic figures mimicking animals associated with constellations. This positioning aligns the body within the cosmic proportions of the universe, inferring empowerment of the individual and of a people.

The sculptural basket boats in this exhibition take different forms that reference the human body in communion with nature. The largest ark is Brackens’ sculptural prototype of a boat that he hopes to float on the Mississippi River. Made with enough room for two passengers to sit upright or lie down, the bodies and boat can float and bob down the river as one. The floating of reed basket boats is significant in legends of deliverance, including the biblical story of the exodus of the Israelites where an “ark of bulrushes” carried the infant Moses up the Nile River. Taking its name from this story, ark of bulrushes gestures to craft itself as a form of mythology—the passing on of tradition, technique, and narrative. Brackens practices textile craft with unique vision and perspective, spinning new definitions of what it means to live today.

This is the inaugural exhibition for PROJECT SPACE—an initiative that supports emerging and established artists in expanding their practice. Organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and curated by Lauren R. O’Connell, curator of contemporary art. Support provided by The S. Rex and Joan Lewis Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

.         The official Logo for the Andy Warhol Foundation for the visual arts



View the publication for Diedrick Brackens: ark of bulrushes.

Artwork by Diedrick Brackens. Essay by Lauren R. O’Connell, curator of contemporary art.

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Related press releases

‘PROJECT SPACE’ Opens at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art with ‘Diedrick Brackens: Ark of Bulrushes’

Four Original Solo Exhibitions Opening in 2021 at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Diedrick Brackens in the press

Art In America reviewed Diedrick Brackens: ark of bulrushes, June 3, 2021.

Diedrick Brackens Weaves New Chapter In African American Art, KJZZ The Show, April 20, 2021

California College of the Arts recently spoke to artist Diedrick Brackens and SMoCA’s curator of contemporary art Lauren O’Connell.

The Arizona Republic featured ark of bulrushes in “How artist Diedrick Brackens aims to ‘liberate’ with new show in Scottsdale,” Feb. 28, 2021.

New SMoCA Exhibits Celebrate Diversity, Scottsdale Progress, Feb. 14, 2021.

Thrillist included Diedrick Brackens: ark of bulrushes inWhat We’re Looking Forward to in Phoenix in 2021.”

“Must see art exhibitions and shows for 2021” on The Arizona Republic, Dec. 17, 2020.

‘PROJECT SPACE’ to feature artist Brackens at SMoCA on Scottsdale Independent, Nov. 10, 2020.

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