The Gallery at The Kranzberg
February 3 – March 25, 2023
Opening Reception February 3, 5 – 8pm
Artist Talk March 11, 4:30 – 6:30pm
*Walk-in gallery hours at The Gallery at The Kranzberg are from 12pm to 4pm, every Saturday. Private gallery visits can be made for all galleries by appointment with COVID-19 mitigation policies in place. To make an appointment, and for questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com or (314) 533-0367 ext. 105
You only have two things in this world: your name and your word. Without those, you are nothing. – James Arthur Davenport (1945 – 2016)
Clothing is one of the best visual communicators and growing up it allowed me to verbalize my emotions and beliefs in connection to the world. Clothing became one of the first ways that I could express my identity in a world that made me feel displaced. I never understood that I was different, until I was told. I grew up looking different from my mother and father, albeit skin tone only, but I never saw that similarity until I was older. No one spoke about what it was to be bi-racial or multi-racial. I was always told that I was neither black nor white, but grey. As a child, I could not wrap my mind around that imagery, so instead I studied my cultures and began my journey of identity.
Torn Mixology is a mixed media exhibition that explores the journey of identifying as a multi-racial female. The exhibit consists of 5 costume designs that begin with childhood through adulthood exploring key points in life where identity was created, challenged, and conquered. A tradition in African American culture, during the Underground Railroad, quilts acted as maps. Each of these designs will be quilted to map out the evolving journey and struggle with identity. To represent the outside force, each mannequin will be painted black, white, and grey to illustrate the American viewpoints on identity. Each design will be collaged with skin tones with the American viewpoint creeping throughout the design at times suffocating the design. By using textiles and spoken word, I want to invoke an emotional response and conversation with this exhibit. By removing the physical actor, the clothing becomes the character and the words becomes the underscore to the clothing.
Now I am a mother. A mother who does not want to perpetuate the cycle of generational trauma. I do not want my daughter to feel othered because society assumes what a multi-racial woman should look like. The conversation needs to begin, the viewpoints need to be challenged, and it is time for a change.
Felia K. Davenport is an Associate Professor in the Communication and Media Department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She holds a B.F.A. in Costume Design from Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.F.A. in Costume Design from University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Felia has designed costumes for theatre and dance companies in St. Louis, New York, London, Nigeria, and South Africa. Felia’s biggest inspiration is her daughter, Kaleesi Rose. It is because of her that Felia was inspired to create her exhibition Torn Mixology, which explores her multi-racial identity versus how society tries to identify her.