September - October, 2023 at the corner of Case and Edgerton on the East Side of Saint Paul, MN
C|E Studios Artboard Home Page
SHAOLIN, ink on paper, 22x22", 2023
Case Edgerton Studios
is proud to present
by Los Angeles-based painter
Nehemiah Cisneros’ paintings bring to life magnified expressions of humanity through grotesquely exaggerated renderings of authority figures and icons. His work merges the graphic aesthetics of 1990s skateboard graphics with the theatrical scale of Baroque painting from the 1600s. Informed by his experiences of growing up in Mid City Los Angeles, Cisneros utilizes the imagery and history of cultural stereotypes to explore the socio/political relationship between authority and people of color. Cisneros examines how mainstream culture, criminality, and the judicial system affect and continue to fail marginalized communities through his juxtaposition of historical and fictional imagery. Through satire, Cisneros highlights the fetishized worldview news media consumers have become addicted to seeing. Nehemiah received his BFA in painting from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2021 and is the recipient of the New Opportunities Fellowship at UCLA School of Arts and Architecture, where he will complete his MFA in 2024.
EXPLORING TRAUMA THROUGH BLACK AMERICANA
by Charlotte Jansen for CONTROL GALLERY, 434 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Cisneros’ work is an exaltation of myth, an aggrandization of stereotype in marginalized communities set within the atemporal landscape of the contemporary American inner city. In SHAOLIN, new work for the board at the corner of Case and Edgerton in Saint Paul, Cisneros effortlessly links three sites known for their cultural diversity and as silos of refuge located equidistantly across the country: Staten Island, Payne-Phalen, and the Crenshaw.
The hip hop collective Wu-Tang Clan constructed a mythologized world in 1990s NYC which fused influences from Black and Asian cultures, renaming their lifelong borough of Staten Island, SHAOLIN, and infusing a personalized worldview into mainstream music culture, refuting its tendencies to homogenize the individual experiences of marginalized communities. Borrowing the placename, SHAOLIN, as both a space of cultural fusion and childhood sentiment, Cisneros portrays the iconic sign inspired by Japanese temple architecture that looms over Crenshaw Square, the 300,000ft/sq open-air shopping center on the South Side of Los Angeles, where Japanese and Black communities faced racially restrictive housing covenants in post-World War II Los Angeles and where Cisneros grew up and saw his family’s store which sold Black collectibles destroyed in the midst of the Rodney King riots. Cisneros’ image and title link not only geographic locations but speak to a period in which the construction of Black identity played itself out to the American public through mass-media on a never before witnessed scale. With site specificity in mind, Cisneros forms a kinship with the diverse communities that call the East Side of Saint Paul their home, as daily passersby hail from the largest Hmong population in the world after the diaspora following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, and more recently welcoming Karen and Afghani refugees into the mix of a vibrant, underserved and diverse community.
Under a pitch-black night sky, Cisneros portrays something all three spaces share, the specter of gentrification in the twilight, a specter whose result is an eventual whitewashing of a neighborhoods history and culture under the auspice of capitalist expansion. Cisneros’ portrayal of a ‘sign upon a sign’ set prominently on a bustling city corner is a delightful visual paradox in itself, but it is in the deviation from his ongoing bacchanal that we see a shift in his satire. Cisneros is deadly serious, reminding us that the old church board is now an exterior art site –
Crenshaw Square is FOR LEASE.