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Gina Washington: Universal Child

Gina Washington’s Visual Art Examines Black American Identity through Nursery Rhymes

Gina Washington’s exhibit “Universal Child” explores fairytales and children’s stories passed through generations that have supplanted an illusion of “American identity” and the understanding of the Black experience. “Universal Child” uncovers the connections between lore and how to survive, and examines the notion of “identity” within a society full of contradictions. Namely, a nation on the cusp of understanding systemic racism as a public health crisis yet continuing to bury the truth of its history. 

Washington creates images to illustrate the children’s poem “Monday’s Child” using large-scale canvases of family portraits, collages, hand-weaving, screenprinting, and embedded augmented reality. A deeply personal and universal appeal to the viewer, Washington’s show not only speaks to a perpetuated narrative of inclusive exclusion but ultimately to acceptance of oneself through the understanding that certain ideals are unattainable outside of one’s culture.

“I work with themes connected to childhood sayings and fairytales that influenced my upbringing and others…Cautionary tales, fortune predictors, and morality stories guided parents in raising children. In the Western tradition, these stories supplanted identity and the understanding of the Black experience…Each story in the canon of the Black experience has a ripple effect, revealing and shedding its layers while uncovering the layers that demonstrate resilience. We, Black folks, must humanize our experiences despite the opposition that tries to prove we don't matter. “Universal Child” dispels one tradition of influence, allowing another to emerge free from and despite the Western headset…All roads to understanding through art are necessary.” 

— Gina Washington

An opening reception for Gina Washington’s “Universal Child” will be held at Akron Soul Train Gallery on Friday, January 5, from 5:00 PM - 7:30 PM. The exhibit is free and open to the public from January 5 - February 10, 2023, in the Burton D. Morgan Exhibition Space.

About the artist Gina Washington:

Gina Washington was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated with an MFA in Photography from Ohio University. In 2023, she joined the Transformative Arts Committee in Cleveland. Founder of Mateza Gallery LLC online, Washington is also the master collaborator and cofounder of The Visit Arts Collective. She desires to bring clarity and offer solutions to the chaos in the world through art and to make art accessible to all people, especially the disenfranchised and underrepresented in the global community.


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