Charlotte Riley-Webb is in the midst of a convergence of music, poetic verse and visual art presented in her project: “Blood Rhythms, Strange Fruit.” More than two years in the making, this traveling exhibition is based on a Sankofa mentality: acknowledging the past to improve our future. “Blood Rhythms, Strange Fruit”, features visual interpretations of Ntozake Stange’s “Blood Currents, Blood Rhythms and Blues Stylin,’”and various lyrics from Nina Simone’s body of work, including the incomparable “Strange Fruit”, first sung by Billie Holiday. “Poet Ntozake Shange and songstress Nina Simone have been among the most influential contributors to my creative library for most of my artistic life, and from whom I continue to draw inspiration.” said Charlotte. “When immersed in Shange’s “Blood Currents, Blood Rhythms and Blues Stylin,’” I am captivated by the depth of artistry through which Ntozake interlaced life and history through contemporized metaphors.”
Adding to the depth of the exhibition is the contemporary voice of poet Tzynya Pinchback, who was selected because of her unique artistic style. The visual representations embodied in her work compliment the totality of this project. Finally, in honor of the amazing poet laureate, Maya Angelou, was added two paintings from her poem, Prodigal Son.
Webb's paintings are an interpretation of not only the words, but also the relationships, accomplishments and resilience, some mirrored in her own life experiences as well as those of her ancestors. The resulting dialogue should prove to be thought provoking for all who choose to engage.
Charlotte was raised and earned her B.F.A. degree from The Cleveland Institute of Art. She began her Master’s Degree at Georgia State University, and has continued her education, exploring new mediums through numerous workshops and classes throughout the years. She documented the essence of her culture in her three year traveling exhibition, “From Stories of My America”, which debuted at the Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta in 2001 and exhibited in seven different museums and fine art galleries throughout the south. Over the years her venues extended across the country and beyond the states to include Newcastle, England; Surinam, South America and a solo exhibition in Anguilla, British West Indies. Webb’s work is included in numerous, private, museum and corporate collections. Her public works installations include, the Public Service Bldg. in Atlanta and the installations of her collaborative medium, “sculpted paintings”, in downtown Hampton, Virginia for which they were awarded “The Hampton Arts Commission Award of Excellence” and was voted as the People’s Choice Purchase Award. Most recently, Arts Alive”, was installed at the new Inter City Row Cultural Arts Center in Shreveport, LA. Charlotte’s rhythmic style and bright palette, easily translated into the illustrations for seven children’s books. As one of twelve contributing visual artists to “Our Children Can Soar”, Charlotte received a 2010 NAACP Image Award. Since her transition into abstract art, Charlotte has received several national first place awards; was inducted into NAWA, New York and Florida chapters; received a Pollack-Krasner Foundation Award and The John T. Bigger’s Award in two triennial competitions at the Hampton Museum in Virginia. She has received three residencies at the Hambidge Arts Center, and fellowship for the Vermont Studio Arts Center in 2010. Of the twenty-eight hundred entries nationally in the Bombay Sapphire competition, Charlotte was one of the two finalists representing the southern region at the December 2011 Art Basel in Miami. Her work was featured on the February 2012 poster and in the Wall Street Journal magazine for the Harlem Fine Art Show in New York. Collectively three series of paintings, “Stories of My America, Earth Tunes and Still Running Lines Through My Head”, comprise “No Crystal Stair” which debuted at the Hammonds House Museum in a solo forty-year retrospective exhibition until February 2011. It was then exhibited in the NAAHBCU Museum in Montgomery and Bessie Smith Museum in Chattanooga. As one of fifteen artists selected to present a work for the new museum, honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Riders in Montgomery, AL, she created “Solidarity in Song”. “No Crystal Stair”, is the culmination of my journey thus far; a narrative and colorful kaleidoscope of opinions and experiences of my amazing, creative journey.” Upcoming is Charlotte’s exciting new project: “Blood Rhythms, Strange Fruit” which will debut at the Tubman Museum in 2014 and promises to explore yet another layer of this artist. With this work she was selected as one of the exhibiting artist in the June, 2013 WAP, Georgia Artist Exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, (MOCA), in Atlanta and in the “Imagining” exhibition, the permanent exhibition of female artists at the Hammonds House Museum. She is currently associated with Zucot Gallery in Castleberry Hills, Atlanta. Whatever genre or theme Charlotte Riley-Webb chooses, her bold, colorful palette and rhythmic style remains the signature of her art.