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The Naked Truth: An American Story in White, Red and Blue will open at Belmont University's Leu Gallery this fall.


Urevbu Contemporary and the Watkins College of Art at Belmont University in Nashville, TN have announced artist Ephraim Urevbu's solo exhibition, The Naked Truth: An American Story in White, Red and Blue will open at Belmont University's Leu Gallery this fall.

Ahead of the university exhibition opening late August, the artist will hold an upcoming preview exhibition, an artist-led talk and private tour on Saturday July 24 at Urevbu Contemporary, located at 410 S Main Street, Memphis, TN from 4pm-6pm. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served. Only a cross-section of paintings will be on display.

The Naked Truth series, comprising over 50 original paintings, was catalyzed during the advent of public demonstrations surrounding issues of social justice, the unjust treatment of African Americans, and the normalized presence of systematic racism.

The artists work addresses some of society's most significant questions of the day: who are we as a nation, where do we want to go from here, and how does art offer an opportunity for dialogue to bridge the ever-widening spaces between us?

The artworks on view were all designed to address issues that are national and global, intergenerational and cross-cultural. For the artist, the works not only highlight his own form of protest but also serves as a means to encourage new learnings, increase awareness and spark open dialogue.

The preview exhibition that will hold on July 24 at Urevbu Contemporary will present a suite of only twenty abstract expressionist paintings from the series, many paired with a short essay or reference material, which function as key components to provide interactive and layered experiences to viewers.

"For 400 years, American culture and nationhood has been haunted, stalked, and tormented by the reality and symbols of racial injustice - the chains, the noose, the statues, the bullets. Now, well into the 21st century, the labels, suspicions and accusations, the protests and riots, the righteous indignation, and "good trouble" rise again and again as a shadow on the land and as a spotlight on the hypocrisy of a nation that saw itself as the standard-bearer for "freedom", said Ephraim Urevbu.

Urevbu originally began creating paintings to intersect art and activism after a meeting with Dr. David Rudd, president at the University of Memphis, to brainstorm ideas on how to engage its college campus in meaningful conversation in response to the killing of Michael Brown and birth of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"For me, this project began as a demonstration of ways in which art could spark dialogue on college campuses around the anger and cultural segregation ignited by protests with the shooting of another unarmed Black man by police. As I worked on these paintings, time and world events caught up with me. The frequency and horror of violence and suppression escalated, magnifying social injustice," said Urevbu.

Belmont University's director of galleries, Katie Mitchell, learned about Urevbu's project and contacted him with an invitation to exhibit. "The Watkins College of Art at Belmont University is honored to exhibit Ephraim Urevbu's passion project, The Naked Truth in the Leu Art Gallery. Created out of personal experience with inequality and social injustice, this important work comes at a pivotal moment in our nation's history. The exhibition, along with related artist-led programming, allows us [Belmont University] the opportunity to engage in meaningful and productive conversations with our campus and local communities," said Mitchell.

To mark the occasion, the artist has also designed a line of limited-edition candles titled "Good Trouble" to be released in late August. Interested buyers should plan to pre-order at the exhibition preview on July 24. Urevbu is also publishing a coffee table book titled after the exhibition to be released in late fall of 2021.

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