Swivel Gallery is pleased to present Go Tell It On The Mountain, a group show curated by Alyssa Alexander, featuring Joseph Cochran II, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Lloyd Foster, Xayvier Haughton, Y. Malik Jalal, Basil Kincaid, Joe Minter, Ambrose Rhapsody Murray, ms. z tye, Lamar Robillard, Le’Andra LeSeur, Shikeith, Nyugen E. Smith, Renée Stout, and Chiffon Thomas.

The exhibition instigates a visual investigation of the complex relationship between Black folx and their spirituality. Whether a contemporary return to African spiritual practices, a steadfast tradition of Christianity - or anywhere in between - Black artists are interrogating the learned and inherited belief systems of their ancestors. With an attention to the long-standing effects of Christianity within colonial systems of power, rituals and convening, baptism, and the afterlife, this exhibition brings a group of multigenerational artists together exploring these themes across painting, photography, sculpture, and multimedia installations.

The exhibition’s title references an African-American carol of the same name, traditionally sung during the Christmas season, that rejoices the birth of Jesus Christ. It also draws on James Baldwin’s homonymous 1953 novel that tells the story of a young Black queer man growing up in the Pentecostal church in depression-era Harlem, New York. Much like Baldwin’s first published work, Go Tell It On The Mountain sits in the interstitial space between the critical and the celebratory, as the institution of “church” has had a multifaceted impact on the African diaspora since the first missionaries ventured to the continent.

Though working in a multitude of mediums and from myriad vantage points, the exhibition's artists work in synchrony at addressing ideas around institutions, materiality, and performance. Fawundu’s She Caught the Holy Ghost and it Looked Like This engages with water as a spiritual tool and site of rebirth, while LeSeur’s installation, That Body of (a Reflection of the Sky), raises questions about surrendering to both breathlessness and death in pursuit of new life through water baptism.

Raised in St. Catherine, an area in Jamaica where Kumina is commonly practiced, Haughton’s work, Kumina Man Sule’ Sule’, references the physicality of ritual - the mounting (possession) of practitioners by spirits and the material culture associated with ceremonies. Assemblage works by Robillard gesture toward the syncretism often present in Caribbean spiritual traditions, alluding to both Christian iconography and the use of alcohol or “spirits'' in vodou ceremonies.

Throughout the exhibition formal qualities and artistic techniques also tether artworks, artists, and their practices to one another. The use of found objects and collage create receptacles of spiritual energy as well as tangible remnants of lived experiences. Haint Blue - a range of green to blue hues originally used in Gullah Geechee culture to ward off evil spirits - is cleverly invoked through textiles and video works. Archival and performance-based documentation also play an integral role in examining the convergent and parallel narratives– although not at all exhaustive – that are embedded in the Black spiritual identities represented in this show and the diaspora at large.