Welancora Gallery is pleased to present Journey Into The Lost and Found, a solo exhibition of new work by Tyrone Mitchell (b. 1944). Journey Into The Lost and Found utilizes the wedding of objects as starting points to establish dialogues primarily focused on African American history and the diasporic experience.

The exhibition consists of Mitchell’s assemblages, composed of traditional and unconventional objects, from pieces of wood and metal to African passport masks and bullets. The resulting arrangements are reflective of fragmented, albeit global narratives that speak to an evolving, hegemonic world.

While he is deeply engrossed in the process of carving to unveil a form, Mitchell’s improvised forms are not only concerned with the individual materials themselves but how the once disparate pieces join to become a vehicle for storytelling. Through the window of his experiences of Southern African American culture, Mitchell insists on the connection between the natural world and the development of a Black American Aesthetic. When Africans began to work in the New Land, they adapted tools more to their liking, reconnecting to their traditional approaches to working their rich homeland. This connection to nature – through the elements of tree bark and wood in the works – as well as culture reinforces a thirst for freedom in this New World.

Thus, the sculptures are representative of an ongoing quest to understand international histories and ‘otherness’ as they exist in the western canon. In particular, with Tulsa I, The Act, 2023; the larger-than-life, freestanding work towers above the human frame, existing in a space between sculpture and installation as it corresponds to a more contemporary African American narrative. Hovering above the passport masks, Mitchell recontextualizes the depictions of Christ on church fans by replacing them with photographs of the aftermath of the Tulsa Massacre of Little Africa on June 6, 1921. Composed of agrafes, Mitchell connects each independent appendage to another, linking his found objects within the work much like people are linked within the broader context of the world.

Mitchell’s artistic background is rooted in sculpture; his traditional Beaux Arts training and travels to West Africa both inform his approach. The usage of found objects is directly inspired by African traditions, namely Malian and Senegalese cultures, which aim to extend the lifespan of the materials. His application of architecture parlante (‘speaking architecture’) is indicative of the global crises his work comments upon; repurposing materials in response to the ongoing climate crisis and extending beyond the rubric of postcolonial modalities. The resulting sculptures become both a reaction to global history and a reflection upon personal history and identity.

The exhibition also includes a participatory performance piece, Tulsa II, intended to provide reflection and healing, as the audience is invited to complete the work during the opening reception.

Tyrone Mitchell (b. 1944) is a sculptor whose approach involves integrating personal experiences with a broader understanding of the history of sculpture worldwide. His interests lie in how materials solidify and shape his sculptural ideas. Inspired by the likes of Julio Gonzales, Pablo Picasso, David Smith, and Auguste Rodin, Mitchell incorporates applied stains, industrial paint, metal sheets, and fabrics into his works.

Travel deeply influences the artist’s work and his background in photography assists him in researching and documenting how various cultures differ in how they create and construct. Allowing his found materials to speak for themselves is crucial to Mitchell’s artistic practice; by integrating these objects into his artwork, Mitchell not only extends their lifespan but contributes to a broader conversation of global circumstances.

Mitchell received his BFA in 1965 from the Arts Students League of New York. He went on to the New York Studio School, earning his MFA from New York Studio School in 1967. He has had solo exhibitions at G.R. N'Namdi Gallery in Chicago and Birmingham; Bomani Gallery in San Francisco; the Bronx Museum of Art; and the Newark Museum. Mitchell has been included in group exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia, and the Fukui Fine Art Museum in Japan, to name but a few.

Mitchell’s work is part of various collections, including the Collection of The Newark Museum, The Delaware Art Museum, The Schomburg Center, Time Equities Inc. Readers Digest Corporate Collection, Forma Viva Sculpture Park. Winston Salem State University Sculpture Garden. His honors include fellowships from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, Reader’s Digest at Giverny, Lila Wallace, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Recent residencies include Art Omi in Ghent, NY, and the Surf Point Foundation in York, Maine. In 2020, he received the Creative Capital Grant. Mitchell has taught at Bard College, Hunter College, and the Delhi College of Art in India; He currently is the Professor Emeritus at Queens College in New York.