Paradigm Gallery + Studio is pleased to present The Magic Number, a group exhibition curated by Ginger Rudolph of HAHA Magazine. The Magic Number is a showcase of young Black artists tapping into experimental concepts to inspire new ideas of art consumption through a variety of disciplines, including glasswork, textiles, oil painting, and graphic design. Rudolph investigates the lasting effect of the artwork on her psyche as a component of creative sustainability in Philadelphia. As these artists embark on deep dives to push the purpose of their craft, Rudolph wades through the shallows of the relational effects art has when investing in the young creatives gliding through the city of murals. The exhibition will feature the work of Caff Adeus, Kendra Dandy, Akira Gordon, Devon Harrison, Eustace Mamba, Jordan Plain, and Qiaira Riley.

In 1956, cognitive psychologist George A. Miller published a paper in Psychological Review that examines the capacity of working memory. The paper describes his findings after conducting what is now known as Miller’s Magical Number Seven experiments, a study of a person’s ability to transmit and respond to information after being presented with varying stimuli. Miller’s Law suggests that if we want people to process and understand information efficiently in their short-term memory, it must be organized into about seven (plus or minus two) smaller but meaningful “chunks”, easily digestible for a lasting impact. As disparate as the individual chunks may seem, the content becomes more straightforward to comprehend, creating a thematic relationship between subjects.

In Rudolph’s cognitive memory are the practices of seven creatives she’s encountered while co-curating the Philadelphia Fellowship for Black Artists. Through the program Rudolph has mentored and advocated for these artists at different points in their careers, fostering an environment where they can harness their individuality to create an in-depth portrait of collective identity. In return, she learns about the different paths that lead people to pursue art, and she can be a voice in defining what it means to be a Black contemporary artist. Rudolph says:

As I watch these artists’ ebb and flow, I see where they started compared to where they end up - the context fueling our future conversations. I imagine that for some of the artists, these bodies of work might be side trips, but it would be a shame if we never got to see them.

Rudolph recognizes the intention each one has as they work in their respective medium even if they are simply indulging in transient exploration. Caff Adeus incorporates a mixture of iconography, abstraction, and figuration to reconfigure ideology regarding racial disparities, social norms, and tragic history. Kendra Dandy celebrates color and pattern to evoke candid glamour and dubious hope. Akira Gordon displays an intimate awareness of the body’s need for care and indulgence in the everyday. Devon Harrison translates glass into an archival tool that underlines the sacredness of history. Eustace Mamba utilizes the finished seams and frayed ends of textiles to illustrate a fragmented self-identification. Jordan Plain designs visual poems by extracting snapshots of his personal history from color. Qiaira Riley creates portraits of Chantam, a neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side, filled with rich African-American history, distinctive architecture, and culture.

Through purposeful installation, Rudolph aims to curate a realm of engagement where seven different discourses can exist. The different subject matter, sizes, and mediums create defined peaks and valleys for visitors to digest and consume. It’s that lasting feeling that trains one to hold art into long-term memory, like the lyrics to a familiar De La Soul song. Rudolph’s exhibition focuses on lifting young artists up by celebrating their distinctiveness in Philadelphia’s art scene, aligning with Paradigm’s mission of supporting artists and advancing their careers. Rudolph says, “I want to invest in artists in this way so that Philadelphia becomes more than a place where they can sell their art. It becomes a home and a community where they can thrive.”

Ginger Rudolph is a Philadelphia-based art curator and writer with a passion for developing multidisciplinary connections with artists. She is the Founder & Editor of an online art magazine focusing on contemporary and public art, HAHA Magazine (High on Art, Heavy on Antics), and co-founder of HAHAxParadigm, a civic and social art initiative. She received her B.A. from Tyler School of Art + Architecture in Art History.

Caff Adeus is a self-taught painter, mixed-media artist, and photographer currently focused on creating paintings from an autobiographical point of view that defies norms, stereotypes, and monolithic rhetoric by using a blend of cultural references and iconography.

Based in Philadelphia, Kendra Dandy (b.1987) is a multidisciplinary artist known for creating colorful illustrations and cheeky, smile-inducing patterns featuring a variety of whimsical characters. Using familiar icons mixed with bold colors and patterns, she creates her own unique world that commands attention. Experimentation is at the forefront of Kendra’s creative practice and she fully believes in embracing imperfections, playing with odd combinations, and using recurring themes in her work such as cheetahs, makeup, tropical foliage, and cocktails. Rotating between painting, printmaking and digital illustration on the iPad allows her versatility and freedom with mixing colors, ideas, and forms.

Akira Gordon, a Philadelphia-born painter and recent graduate of the University of the Arts, is a captivating artist driven by a passion for contemporary art and self-portraiture. Inspired by Kerry James Marshall and Sasha Gordon, she skillfully integrates her black experiences into her work, placing figures within evocative environments. In her current artistic endeavors, Akira Gordon delves deep into the realm of narrative storytelling, employing her figures as conduits to convey compelling tales.

Her unique artistic voice is amplified by a rich and saturated color palette, imbuing her paintings with a mesmerizing vibrancy that captivates viewers and invites them into her narrative world. As a fellow of the 2023 Philadelphia Fellowship for Black Artists, Akira Gordon joins a cohort of distinguished creators, enriching her practice and contributing to the vibrant cultural landscape of Philadelphia. With accolades such as exhibitions at renowned venues like Icebox Project Space and Rittenhouse Fine Art Show, she aims to attend global residencies and achieve gallery representation, leaving a lasting impression on the art world.

Color outside of the glass, ideas outside of the box. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Devon Harrison is an artist who works with literal and strange art. In his youth, cartoons, video games, and movies were a few of his favorite inspirations that helped mold his reactive art style and mind. Graduating from Delaware College of Art and Design, as well as University of the Arts with a BFA in Animation; Devon also found and minored in Glass. Realizing both mediums were similar, he hopes to incorporate more glass animations in his line of work. As a Black artist, Devon already has a social stigma in society. He hopes to help his community find their voices through crafts and avoid being shoved into "checkbox" careers. But, he's not alone. His chonky cat, Mittmitts, is here to help too.

Influenced by his West Indian heritage and Manhattan upbringing, Eustace Mamba's interdisciplinary artistic practice spans painting, sculpture, experimental design, and digital media. Through the integration of everyday objects, his recent work delves into themes of Black Subjectivity and Afro-Pessimism, challenging colonial image norms and symbolizing unity with the recurring motif of thread. Eustace sees his artistic dialogue as a scientist's exploration, unveiling new dimensions within himself and inviting viewers to contemplate the complexities of contemporary society.

Jordan Plain is a multi-hyphenate creative who cannot be boxed in. Born and raised in Philadelphia, and ever inspired by the city. Jordan Plain creates for sustenance using a blend of poetry, graphic design, and the abstract to capture life at its purest.

Qiaira Riley is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and cultural worker, raised on Chicago's south side, and based in Philadelphia. She holds a dual B.A. in Black Studies and Studio Art from Lake Forest College, as well as an M.F.A in Socially Engaged Studio Art from Moore College of Art and Design. She is a founding member of 2.0, a Philadelphia-based collective that curates free, experimental art offerings for Black femmes and women. Her 2021 zine “How Tiffany Pollard Built the Internet: Representations of Simulacra, Virtuality, and Black women and femmes on the Internet and Its Art” is a part of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection.

She is also the host of “Something You Can Feel”, a black art history podcast. She was the Jan-Feb 2024 resident at Our House Culture Center debuting her first solo exhibition, Beauty of the Week, a showcase of works created as the 2023 Leeway Foundation X Fleisher Art Memorial Artist in Residence. Her creative practice shifts between painting, ceramics, artist books, video, and alternative photography and transfer techniques. Her work is influenced by the visual language of Chicago’s south side, Black vernacular interiors, and reality TV. She is currently the artist partner with the Friends of the Tanner House, supporting creative opportunities to envision the future of the historic Henry O. Tanner House in North Philadelphia.