At the heart of it all, art is a contemplative, clarifying, spiritual and emotional experience, and artists Charles Jean-Pierre (who goes by JP) and Kendall Robinson capture that and so much more in their newest exhibit in D.C.
On February 23, the lobby of Viceroy will hold the opening reception for the “Kinfolk” exhibit, featuring artwork from JP and Robinson. The night will also unveil their interactive, collaborative installation, “Compass to the Cosmos.”
For JP, his work in this exhibit is his latest exploration of humans as vessels and spiritual beings, this concept that we all have a divine connection to the universe. The inspiration for his artwork goes way back.
“I consider myself a textile artist of Haitian descent, by way of Chicago,” JP says. “My paternal grandfather was a textile merchant in Haiti and my maternal grandfather was a poet, storyteller and sociologist. He ran the national chess club in Haiti, a safe space for intellectuals to come together and talk about things going on in society, and what I call system socio-politics, so my artwork uses textiles to explore, to discuss political systems that are ever-present.”
For JP and Robinson, Howard University is their alma mater. In this sense, JP feels as if they are family through association and wanted to convey this through the title of the exhibit. The English translation of “Kinfolk” is “my people” or “my tribe,” as JP puts it.
“I’ve made friends, and I’ve made families, and I’ve seen these greater general family structures that extended beyond blood that help communities thrive, that help organizations thrive, that help even countries thrive,” JP says. “And I was thinking that these folks are my tribe. I would find these people of Haitian descent, and I’m like, ‘Yo, you’re my people.’”
“Compass to the Cosmos” is a six-sided, three-dimensional, interactive installation that took six months to complete. Through JP’s monotype collages and Robinson’s digital portraitures of people she considered kinfolk, they drive home the deep-rooted idea of a found family. The piece also displays a QR code that presents an augmented reality of the cube’s different panels, truly bringing the piece to life.
Additionally, as an homage to Howard University and the 100th anniversary of its School of Fine Art, both artist alums took inspiration from Alma Thomas, the first graduate of Howard, and Sam Gilliam, an artist associated with the Washington Color School.
And what began as a Jack Whitten quote became the brainchild for its title.
“‘Art is the compass to the cosmos,’” JP says. “That line stuck out to me and I said, ‘That’s it!’ I talked about us as spiritual beings, connected beyond the physical. I felt like seeing the cube as a compass or a navigation tool for us to see ourselves beyond ourselves was fitting.”
“Kinfolk” and “Compass to the Cosmos” will be on display at Viceroy Washington D.C. through April from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily. You can follow JP on Instagram @cjpgallery and Robinson @fineartbykendallrobinson.
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content. Support local journalism and start your membership today.