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Temple of Acacia
Artwork by Dario Mohr
Temple of Acacia is dedicated to the spiritual practices of West Africa that have been and continue to be suppressed in the U.S. cultural zeitgeist. The Acacia tree is native to many regions of Africa, and became the primary icon representing the diverse tribal nations from which people of the African diaspora in the Americas are descended.
Enjoy this virtual tour slide show of the exhibition, photographed by Etienne Frossard.
Temple of Acacia is dedicated to the spiritual practices of West Africa that have been and continue to be suppressed in the U.S. cultural zeitgeist. The Acacia tree is native to many regions of Africa, and became the primary icon representing the diverse tribal nations from which people of the African diaspora in the Americas are descended. In this site-specific, multimedia installation at OSH, Dario Mohr attempts to understand and relate his own evolving spiritual beliefs to those of his Indigenous ancestors, while drawing visually from the Anglican colonial religious practices of his upbringing which he later abandoned. The exhibition holds the religious rituals of Mohr’s ancestors and other descendants of this region in high esteem, transforming the gallery into a sacred space of veneration and remembrance of the spirituality that many Black people in the U.S.’s ancestors once practiced, and that continues to be practiced today.
The show is anchored by an image of multiple hands forming one family tree, which was first presented in Mohr’s Sow the Seeds mural currently on display at the Mitchel Housing district of the South Bronx. The hands represent the many tribal groups of West Africa. This exploration inspired Mohr to embark on a solo travel research tour of Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigeria to visit the lands of his ancestors and document the journey through video and photo collage. These digital works, along with prints and assemblage, frame the central Acacia Altar in the Great Room.
The Temple of Acacia is part of an evolving series that included a recent exhibition at the Lewis Latimer House in Queens focusing on the artist’s Grenadian heritage. Mohr hopes that presenting this latest work at the Old Stone House, an institution dedicated to local colonial, Revolutionary and Indigenous history, will help honor the presence of the BIPOC community in the surrounding Park Slope area in the midst of its ongoing gentrification. In addition to providing vehicles for memorialization, Mohr’s work aims to inspire others whose heritage and legacy have been severed due to colonialism to “experience the reclamation of lost ancestral identity, and perhaps embark on their own ancestry research journey.”
About the Artist:
Dario Mohr (he/him) is a first generation Grenadian U.S. citizen born in 1988. Based in New York City, Mohr is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and non-profit leader. He received a BFA in Painting from Buffalo State College, an MFA in Studio Art from The City College of New York and an Advanced Certificate from Queens College. His work involves the creation of “sacred spaces” referencing his heritage, and expressing commentary on the cultural zeitgeist through immersive sanctuary experiences. His practice is interdisciplinary, converging painting, sculpture, installation, digital art and film, with creative reuse being a major part. Many leftover works from previous concentrations end up recycled and repurposed for new art. As a result, his work is constantly evolving, with each iteration building upon its associative complexity. He intends for people to relive or recontextualize memories, construct new narratives, and explore new perspectives and philosophies through their associations to the objects assembled within many of the works. He hopes that his audience can engage with and embrace the varied themes presented in the sacred spaces he creates either through their faith or decontextualized from religion.
Recently, Mohr has accompanied his work with performances, including “The Archetype Activation Ritual” presented in tandem with his solo show presented as artist in residence at Materials For the Arts. He also began presenting in public spaces, with notable works including “Sow the Seeds” created during his 2021 Fellowship with ArtBridge, and “Revelations Across Generations” exhibited during his solo exhibit at the Lewis Latimer House Museum. In addition to his individual art practice, he is also the Founder and Director of AnkhLave Arts Alliance, Inc., a non-profit arts organization for the recognition and representation of BIPOC artists in contemporary art.
About the Curator:
Katherine Gressel, contemporary curator, earned her BA in art from Yale and MA in arts administration from Columbia. In addition to organizing over a dozen major exhibitions to date at OSH, Katherine has curated and produced artist projects for Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Smack Mellon, FIGMENT, No Longer Empty, St. Francis College, and Brooklyn Historical Society, and was the 2016 NARS Foundation emerging curator. Katherine has written and presented on art and social impact for Americans for the Arts and Public Art Dialogue, among others. Katherine also served as Programs Manager at Smack Mellon Gallery from 2010-2014, and has worked and consulted for diverse nonprofits.