Father-daughter exhibition celebrates black art in various mediums at SOPAC

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — It is often said that art inspires more art. That is certainly true for Kelvin and Corrine Slade, father-and-daughter artists featured in “Slade: A Family Affair,” an exhibition at The Herb + Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC, 1 SOPAC Way, on display from Jan. 26 through March 5. There will be a free opening reception on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 5 to 8 p.m. Kelvin Slade, who takes photographs of jazz performers, has an undying love for the musical genre, while Corrine Slade taps into her admiration for jazz when creating comforting abstract environments in her oil paintings. In celebration of Black History Month, this exhibit portrays the influence that black music, particularly jazz, has had on the artists.

“This exhibit will be unique, thought-provoking and a wonderful juxtaposition of the mediums of paint and photography,” gallery curator Jeremy Moss said. 

While Kelvin Slade’s photographs are often black-and-white, Corrine Slade’s paintings incorporate the entire color wheel. 

“Jazz is an inspiring force deriving from a place of hope, joy and spirit,” Kelvin Slade said, adding that many jazz artists “have fired up my soul. Thelonious Monk encouraged us to get outside of ourselves and let go of imagined restrictions. Charlie Parker let me know I can soar. Ella Fitzgerald told me the world is full of many possibilities.”

Through his camera lens, Kelvin Slade seeks to “capture just a smidgen” of the meaning behind the music by “humbly preserving a moment of it,” he said. “My response to this refined art is art in and of itself: photography.”

Kelvin Slade’s passion for jazz rubbed off on his daughter over time.

“Jazz has been a part of my life from the beginning,” Corrine Slade said. “The sounds of Nancy Wilson or John Coltrane were the backdrop to pancakes and grits on a Sunday morning.”

As a child, Corrine Slade thought jazz was “a cacophonous racket.” In retrospect, the genre molded her artistic practice.

“It was roaring, piercing, crooning, sweltering, jutting and consoling,” she said. “Vibrations of catharsis and spirit. It was all the things that make an ideal painting. Jazz encompasses everything through sound that I seek to convey visually.”

Corrine Slade, who has a Bachelor of Fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, creates dreamlike paintings depicting black women. 

“The spaces I construct are environments of solace that do not exist in this reality,” she said. “Flora and fruit are symbols of abundance, growth and fertility that appear in my work. The growth of the natural world is intrinsically linked to that of the human spirit.”

Their shared affection for jazz is a key aspect of the Slade family’s relationship.

“With each year that passes I feel more of a kinship with the music,” Corrine Slade said. “I wouldn’t be the artist or person I am if my dad didn’t know the wonders of jazz.”