Mitchell Reece’s first solo exhibition, My Favorite Heartbreak, will be up this weekend, March 22 through 24, at PARADICE PALASE, a local art space in Bushwick. Originally a concept for an art publication, My Favorite Heartbreak is a multimedia exhibition that “engages the lives of political prisoners, figures of activism, and the state of America’s beautiful yet undervalued Black communities,” as stated on the press release.
The pieces in My Favorite Heartbreak focus on the lives and work of Assata Shakur, Leonard Petlier, and Malcom X, all activists and martyrs of social justice. “I was first inspired by ‘Wanted’ signs and how they highlight certain people who are known for something, usually something bad,” Reece explained. “I portray these figures with a similar spotlight, but paying homage to them rather than portraying them negatively as they usually are.”
Plexiglass sculptures, collage, and video are all factors in My Favorite Heartbreak; each medium in a direct conversation with the subjects they’re depicting. “I’ve always loved the power of collage,” Reece told Bushwick Daily. “It gives a sense of time: if you make a collage over the span of a year, you can see the year laid out in front of you as an artwork.”
Using black figures in his collages from both pop culture and activist history, the artist demonstrates the hierarchies of histories that exist in today’s society. Similarly, Reece created plexiglass portraits of these activists to demonstrate the fragility of their position in the socio-political climate of the 1930s-1960s as well as the present.
“Working with plexiglass is such an exact process because of how fragile the material is,” Reece said. “But when the portraits are done, light can shine through them, giving them some sort of life.”
Reece’s work is historically and politically charged and dynamic. Given his background in graphic design, he is able to produce eye-catching compositions which make it hard for the viewer to ignore the realities being spoken through the artwork.
Originally from Houston, Texas, Reece now studies Fine Art and Design at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. He is also a social educator at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, which is where the idea of My Favorite Heartbreak was first conceived. “It was originally going to be a student show, but then evolved into the exhibition it is now,” Reece said.
PARADICE PALASE is a “curatorial project space that believes in a community-supported gallery model and getting artists paid for their efforts,” as stated on their website. Located in Bushwick, PARADICE PALASE hosts gallery shows, events, and workshops with aims of building a stronger local arts community. It was founded in 2017 by Kat Ryals and Lauren Hirshfield who both have “sought outlets for their artistic and curatorial efforts.” With curatorial spaces like PARADICE PALASE, artists like Reece are able to exhibit their work, build connections and especially in the case of My Favorite Heartbreak, start new conversations in artistic communities.
In the future, Reece wants to continue to address oppressed histories and politics through his artwork, “I want to create something that engages the body, particularly the black body in the context of gun violence.” He hopes to expand his practice by working with sculpture and architecture, and using spaces to provoke conversations that are often ignored. As his artist statement says, “As an artist and designer I’m always drawn to how an obstacle can present multiple solutions. My focus was and always has been equity human rights and equity for my people.”
My Favorite Heartbreak opens March 22 at 6 p.m. with an opening reception, and will be up until March 24 at PARADICE PALASE. For more information about Mitchell Reece, find him on Instagram or on his website.
All images courtesy of Mitchell Reece.
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