Shelter in Place

Words & photos by Janie Day

The current installation at the Corner Gallery is unlike any I’ve ever seen before. You don’t stand in a room looking at framed paintings on the wall. Instead, you become immersed into Erin Kendrick’s colorful and distorted maze of textures and objects. This multi-sensory installation titled “Shelter in Place” forces you to navigate your way around large brightly painted panels depicting various scenes and symbols of Black women and girls’ experience. You sift your fingers through the sand in the sandbox as the eyes plastered on the wall stare you down. You pass through dangling strings of beads and are met with warped mirrors that reveal words on the opposite wall, a quote from Zora Neale Hurston: “It’s no use of talking unless people understand what you say.” Your eyes are compelled to examine every part of the room: from the tall white wall covered in hands of various gestures to the money shoe prints on the floor. Each corner you turn brings you to a new object to interact with, consider and interpret—a seesaw or a swing made from a black woman’s hair.

This installation is an experience–one that represents how Black women and girls navigate, find safety, and survive in the spaces they inhabit by using verbal and non-verbal language. Kendrick utilizes elements of mazes, playgrounds, and funhouses, fully incorporating the viewer as a part of the installation. I suggest that you go experience this installation yourself at the Corner Gallery in the Jesse Ball DuPont Center sometime before August 3rd.