1976 · United States
Merging sharp photo-realism with poetic abstraction, Calida Rawles paints African-American women and men submerged in glistening water; each body swarmed by a flurry of bubbles, ripples, and refracted light. For Rawles, water is a spiritually healing element for all people – yet she recognizes its historical connotations to racial exclusion and cultural fears. She uses the complicated duality of water as a platform to address identity politics while reimagining her subjects beyond cultural tropes. At times, her work alludes to current events, even making topographical maps of cities where acts of racially targeted violence have occurred. In other moments, her works are purely celebratory of the resilience, strength, and beauty of African American culture.
Calida Rawles received her B.A. in Art at Spelman College and her M.A. in Painting at New York University. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the LACMA Inglewood Art + Film Lab, Inglewood, CA; the San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco, CA; Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Papillon Art, Los Angeles, CA; and Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY. Rawles has a forthcoming solo exhibition at Various Small Fires, Los Angeles and a solo presentation at Frieze Los Angeles Art Fair in February 2020.