Wilmington’s Sold Firm Gallery Opens Exhibition to Celebrate Black Artists

Photo courtesy of the Sold Firm Gallery

As Black Lives Matter demonstrations continue across the globe, a local gallery presents an opportunity for Black artists to express themselves creatively.

This month, the Sold Firm Gallery in Wilmington opened an exhibition to bring focus to the city’s Black communities.

Located at 800B N. Tatnall St., the gallery has been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and opened on Aug. 1 with a celebration of its new exhibition, Pendulum Swing.

The exhibition, deriving its name from the back-and-forth motions of the titular machine, strives to swing in the direction of focus for the Black community in Wilmington, both for representation and acknowledgement towards the disproportion Black Americans have faced not only for the last few months, but for hundreds of years.

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“Like the purpose of a pendulum, our goal [for this exhibition] is to have alignment,” says Nataki Oliver, Sold Firm founder. “In our time…and in the world overall, we are off, and our black community has continually been off [as] the pendulum has never swung in our direction for the alignment and balance that we need.”

Photo courtesy of the Sold Firm Gallery

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down everything in Delaware, it halted Sold Firm’s initial plans for the gallery and future exhibitions, presenting issues of not being able to schedule anything for the remainder of the year and the flexibility to plan a new exhibit. But, during the closure, the idea of the Pendulum Swing exhibition came to life.

“When George Floyd was killed and the world’s eyes opened up to what was happening within the Black community…we [at the gallery] wanted to do something that would allow Black artists to use their visual art voice to express how they were feeling at this moment,” she says.

Featuring 15 unique creations, including those by Delaware College of Art and Design student and guest curator Adriana Dumphrey and visual artist 7GODXX, the exhibition incorporates the emotions of these artists toward the Black American experience through interaction between the artists, their works and those seeing it all come to life.

On opening weekend, Sold Firm gave children of the community the opportunity to pick up free art kits and the chance to take drawing and painting lessons taught by a local Black artist from the city, all made possible by the sales of the gallery’s Our Voices, Our Way t-shirts.

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Photo courtesy of the Sold Firm Gallery

“We wanted to give people impacted by what is happening within our community, especially kids, the opportunity to express themselves in a way that they felt good,” Oliver says.

For Sold Firm, the goal is twofold: to creatively display the timeline of events that have impacted how each artist and community member views themselves and the world around them, but to also encourage others to do the same, conveying the artistic complexities of their feelings as they choose.

“Visual arts have not been a part of the fabric of Wilmington like it should be,” Oliver says. “We need a feeling from this exhibit, but we also need to celebrate having a gallery in the city—a one of a kind gallery in a city like this—where it is not only Black-owned, but representative of the community around us.”

The exhibit will be showing through Oct. 30 with tickets going on sale this week.

For more information on the exhibition, please visit thesoldfirm.com.

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