On View: Jafa Video Makes Southeast Debut, Ray to Present New Work

Two new exhibitions in the Van Every / Smith Galleries at Davidson College will challenge and engage visitors. The works of Jen Ray, in Surrounded by Wolves, and Arthur Jafa, in Love is The Message, The Message is Death, will be on view Jan. 25 - March 3.

An opening reception from 7 - 8:30 p.m., Jan. 25, will be held in the Belk Visual Art Center. Additionally, Ray will present an audio work and orchestrate two new performances to accompany the exhibition–one at the Van Every/Smith Galleries at during the opening reception (performance begins at 7:30 p.m.), and one at 7 p.m., Feb. 7, at The Mint Museum in Charlotte. 

In Surrounded by Wolves, Ray explores female rebellion and the shifting nature of a woman's identity, as well as what it means to be a feminist in the South. Large-scale watercolor paintings and sculptural works are juxtaposed by a new large-scale installation examining the life of circus performer Pat Cuneo.

Ray was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, grew up in South Carolina, and currently resides in New York. Her work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Kasseler Kunstverein, Germany, Kunsthal KAdE, Netherlands, and the Petit Palais, France, as well as at venues in New York and Los Angeles. She is represented by Wentrup Gallery, Berlin, Germany, and albertz benda gallery, New York. 

Southeast Debut

The Smith Gallery has been transformed into an intimate theatre to showcase Arthur Jafa's critical video installation, Love is The Message, The Message is Death. The installation has been shown internationally and on the West Coast–it will make its Southeast debut at Davidson College.


Jafa creates moving works of power and beauty using charged, found video clips, to reflect on black representation in mainstream media. Although only seven minutes in length, the video installation, set to Kanye West's stirring, gospel-inspired song "Ultralight Beam," presents glimpses into the joys and traumas of black life in the United States. 

Artist, filmmaker, cinematographer and TNEG (motion picture studio) co-founder Jafa was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and currently lives in Los Angeles.

Jafa is renowned for his cinematography and served as director of photography on Spike Lee's Crooklyn (1994), Isaac Julien's Darker Shade of Black (1994), Ada Gay Griffin and Michelle Parkerson's biographical film on the late Audre Lorde A Litany for Survival (1995), and John Akomfrah's Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993). He also lent his talents as cinematographer for Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Manthia Diawara's Rouch in Reverse (2000) and Nefertite Nguvu's In the Morning (2014), shot second unit on Ava DuVernay's Selma (2014) and was the director of photography for Solange's music videos Don't Touch My Hair and Cranes in the Sky (both 2016). In 2017, along with TNEG, Jafa conceived, shot and edited the music video for JAY-Z's 4:44, the title track from his newest album.

Dreams are Colder Than Death, a documentary directed and shot by Jafa to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, garnered acclaim at the LA Film Festival, NY Film Festival and Black Star Film Festival, where it won best documentary. His writing on black cultural politics has appeared in various publications such as Black Popular Culture and Everything but the Burden, among others.

Jafa's gallery work has been widely exhibited at Artists Space, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; CCAC Institute, Oakland, CA Westaelischer Kunstvein, Münster, Germany; ARTPACE, San Antonio, TX; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA; The Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York, NY; and The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA to name a few. 

Jafa was recently featured in a solo exhibition entitled A Series of Utterly Improbably, Yet Extraordinary Renditions at The Serpentine Gallery in London that will tour to the Julia Stoschek Foundation in Berlin in 2018. His work is represented in prestigious private and public collections worldwide, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The High Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Museum of Fine Art in Boston, among others.




Lia Newman







  • January 25, 2018