Curated by Ori Jai
In the sacred space of "Every Shut Eye Ain't Sleep," artists Ori Jai and BLKMRKT invite you into 38a to traverse the corridors of a Black family home, not as mere spectators but as honored guests. This joint exhibition is a testament to the profound narrative that unfolds within the walls of these homes — a narrative that speaks to the vastness of Black identity, the resilience of familial/communal bonds, and the interplay between the seen and the unseen.
Ori Jai and BLKMRKT draw inspiration from the multifaceted beings of the Black experience, starting with where the heart is, the home. The title, "Every Shut Eye Ain't Sleep," serves as a poignant reminder that beneath the surface of what may seem dormant, a world of dreams, memories, and untold stories is ever-present. “Watchin’ yo back” has new meaning when you have something to lose.
As gallery viewers step into the model of the home, each room is confronted with layers of history, vernacular laced culture and identity that have been woven into the very fabric of the domestic setting. Each room becomes a gateway, inviting contemplation on the everyday moments that shape the Black experience. From the vibrant hues of the living room, where laughter and joy resonate, to the quiet solitude of the bedroom, where dreams and aspirations take shape, the artists beckon us to explore the nuances of Black living.
The vastness of Blackness is explored not only through the physicality of the space, but also through the symbolic elements embedded in the artworks. BLKMRKT's masterful use of mixed media and fine art techniques breathes life into the forgotten corners of these rooms, while Ori Jai's evocative photography and mixed media pieces capture the essence of individuals who have weathered the storms of time and came out triumphant. Together, they present a narrative that goes beyond the surface, delving into the complexities of identity and the rich weaving of stories that define the Black experience.
"Every Shut Eye Ain't Sleep" is an invitation to engage with the unseen or “save for laters,” to reimagine the narratives that have shaped Black lives, and to celebrate the resilience of a community that continues to thrive against all odds. Through this joint exhibition, Ori Jai and BLKMRKT invite you to journey beyond the threshold of perception, where every shut eye indeed awakens to the vibrant threads of Blackness that weave through the collective soul of a people.
Join Ori Jai at 38a for the Opening Night of “Every Shut Eye Ain’t Sleep” on Friday, February 9th from 6PM - 9PM.
Reserve your spot now.
38a is our gallery space dedicated to serving Pittsburgh’s vibrant artist community with a space open to emerging and established Black, Brown, and minority creator-led exhibitions, programs, events, and workshops.