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Artist Talk by Nekisha Durrett: Sept. 7, 5 p.m.

True Grit Opening Reception: Sept. 7, 6-7:30 p.m.


The Duke Gallery of Fine Art is excited to open the 2022-2023 academic year with Nekisha Durrett's immersive exhibition, True Grit. Rooted in Durrett's experiences as a Washington D.C. native, True Grit honors the process of place-making in opposition to the colonial forces of dispossession and extraction. Monumental text panels, encrusted with the soil of the Brookland neighborhood in which her father grew up, spell out "Watch Me Bless This House" across the gallery wall.

Inverting the association of true grit with the macho swagger and "frontier justice" associated with the Western film of the same title, Durrett instead venerates the strength of family matriarchs who heal, bless and build lives. True Grit invokes the red clay of the U.S. South as the familiar backdrop to many African American experiences. Durrett engages in storytelling and a poetic study of language by creating monuments to the power of memory. 

An award-winning artist, Durrett has shown her work extensively nationally and internationally. She earned her B.F.A. at The Cooper Union in New York City and M.F.A. from The University of Michigan School of Art and Design as a Horace H. Rackham Fellow. As a finalist in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s prestigious Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, her work is a part of The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today” exhibition.

Her recent installations include: Up ‘til Now, a freestanding, solar-powered sculpture that evokes the history of Washington, D.C.’s landscape and architecture, in Washington’s Golden Triangle neighborhood; “Messages for the City” in collaboration with For Freedoms in Times Square, New York; and a wall-mounted public sculpture in the Liberty City community of Miami, made in collaboration with conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas;  and a permanent installation on the glass-walled vestibule in the newly renovated Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Washington, D.C. Magnolia, a series of leaves perforated with the names of women murdered by law enforcement, was on view at Cody Gallery at Marymount University and the Atlanta Biennial at Atlanta Contemporary. 

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