Visual art often has the miraculous power to live both within the time it was produced and outside of it. Works that captured the national or international mood at the time of their creation often feel just as poignant today as they did when they were created. Even depictions of specific historical events can resonate just as clearly with contemporary audiences as they once did.
As unprecedented as our current environment may seem, today’s art is no different. Omari Booker has shown as much in his latest exhibition, “It’s All Life,” running until June 15 at Woodcuts Gallery & Framing. The collection of vibrantly colored oil works certainly captures a wide spectrum of modern life, from the last moment adjustments of a graduation gown to Donald Glover framed by a barbed wire outline of the United States. It all comes together to remind visitors that, even today, everything is connected.
“In one way or another it’s all good because it is what we are experiencing right now,” according to a press description of the show. “Positive, negative or neutral, Omari captures it all with color, shapes and images.”
It’s All Life, Booker’s namesake piece for the show, shares the thick brushstrokes, free color palette and focus on black subjects of its other pieces. It also captures the reflective and positive spin Booker’s show has put on our hectic modern times — keeping the viewer within the now but also granting them a chance to escape. It’s an effect that is baked into Booker’s creative process.
“I paint to visually express the concepts in my mind,” Booker said in the release. “The freeing of my spirit is the gift that makes me continue to produce work. The level of intense presence that I slip into while painting provides a cathartic experience. Painting allows me to both deal with the world and escape it simultaneously.”
Booker is native to Nashville and serves as an art instructor at the University School of Nashville. His work has been featured in local shows for years, as well as exhibitions throughout the Southeast.
Woodcuts Gallery & Framing is located at 1613 Jefferson Street.