Locust Projects presents Martine Syms who created a new body of work for Art on the Move, Locust Projects’ on-going public art commissioning initiative, by guest curator Franklin Sirmans, who is soon to take up the position of Director at the Perez Art Museum Miami.
Syms is a Los Angeles-based artist and conceptual entrepreneur known for new media projects that explore the making and reception of meaning in contemporary America. For Art on the Move, Syms will produce a project inspired by vernacular advertising used to promote mid- twentieth century “Chitlin’ Circuit” concerts. The “Chitlin’ Circuit” was a series of venues in the eastern, southern and upper mid-western United States where it was safe for African American entertainers to perform during racial segregation.
Syms will produce abstract works based on posters by Clyde Killens, an Overtown nightclub promoter, to advertise performances by acts like Count Basie, B. B. King, and Aretha Franklin. The artist’s work for Art on the Move also includes a poem related to her research, presented in a custom typeface that she has created. This typeface is based upon Neuland, which is often used by graphic designers to signify African or African American subject matter, in a way that compounds racist stereotypes.
Syms’ artwork will be displayed on the back of buses on routes running around Overtown and Miami Beach, as well as at numerous Overtown bus stops. Syms’ project has developed from her research into the Harlem Square Club, a nightclub that was part of the “Chitlin’ Circuit” in Miami’s Overtown, where Sam Cooke’s legendary album “Live at the Harlem Square Club” was recorded in 1963. The club, which no longer physically exists, stood at NW 2nd Avenue and NW 10th Street.