Tiona Nekkia McClodden: MASK / CONCEAL / CARRY (Clarion)

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Tiona Nekkia McClodden considers the presence and absence of the Black figure and aesthetic tropes of representation through work traversing film, installation, sculpture, painting, and writing.

“An artist who may be America’s most essential today.” —Siddhartha Mitter, The New York Times

Known for her sharp examinations of biomythography and intersubjectivity, McClodden uses a research-based approach in her practice as an artist and self-described “historian and cultural custodian.” MASK / CONCEAL / CARRY dissects the many meanings of these three words. McClodden creates films, paintings, and sculptures from her own firearms and calibers, and referencing cultural and historical objects including Benin Bronzes and BDSM gimp masks. This exhibition pivots around the concept of “training to failure.” It holds that, in order to achieve gains or to succeed—a success measured by and set in accordance with someone else’s standard—you must strenuously lift something that is inherently too great a load to bear.  McClodden communicates a core awareness of the body as it corresponds to the fragile boundaries of the psyche. Through custom lighting, the artist carefully choreographs a performance between the work, the gallery space, and the viewer. 

Adding to McClodden’s narrative and psychological concepts, this publication includes a curator’s note from Ebony L. Haynes, a poem by the acclaimed writer and artist Rhea Dillon, and a conversation between the poet Simone White and the artist, as well as a statement penned by McClodden herself.