by Jessica Harris
“I don’t want to just survive as an artist. I want to thrive.”
That phrase is artist Kori Price’s mission statement. And between her personal artwork and serving as president of the Charlottesville Black Arts Collective (CBAC), she is certainly working to do just that.
A multidisciplinary artist whose media includes photography, writing, and weaving, Kori Price has been a creative for as long as she can remember. Born in Culpepper, Virginia, Kori is also an electrical engineer by training, and for the past three years has worked as a product manager at Emerson Automation Solutions in Charlottesville.
However, it would be an understatement to say that by day Kori is a product manager, and by night, she is an artist. Rather, her disciplines and practices converge seamlessly into one another and impact every aspect of her life. “I’m starting to realize everything’s connected, especially with my practice as an artist–everything that I do can be a source of inspiration,” she says.
In fact, something that makes Kori unique is the way she views artistic work from an engineering perspective. When she starts to work on a piece of art, her “engineering mindset takes over. I need these tasks and in this order to complete a piece. I have a plan…and a problem-solving mindset to create using my own art practice.”
Perhaps it is this multifaceted thinking that has allowed Kori to flourish as an artist. A prolific photographer, her work has been shown at multiple galleries around town, including New City Arts, Second Street Gallery, and Studio IX, among others. She also creates weavings that use synthetic Black hair and writes poetry and prose. Currently, she’s writing a novel that compares feudalism with corporate America. “I don’t know anything about the Middle Ages,” Kori laughs, “but [the book] is going to have knights and kings and vassals and serfs, and it all kind of lines up with the hierarchy we see today.”
By now, you may have come to realize that Kori is the definition of “booked and busy.” To allow time and space for all these projects, Kori is using this period of her life to focus her efforts more on her artwork and creative practice. “I want to be in art as much as I can and just be in a creative mode,” she says. “I feel like I’m in that cycle again where it’s discovery and research mode.”
One of Kori’s many projects that she’s worked on the past few years has been starting the CBAC The collective was formally created in 2020 when local Black artists joined forces to curate Water: The Agony and Ecstasy of the Black Experience at the McGuffey Arts Center. Kori says that the artists who participated “enjoyed that show, and we needed that show, and we said, ‘What do we do next? How do we keep this going?’”
Needless to say, the CBAC has answered that call. The group’s efforts the past three years have included an exhibit titled Lay My Burdens Down, artist gatherings and shows, and film screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse. In a break from the heavier themes of their previous exhibits, their latest show Blackity Black Black at McGuffey Art Center is an unabashed celebration of all things Black.
The exhibition features thirty-five Black artists whose media run from photography and weaving to spoken word and mixed media pieces. This blend of artists mirrors the non-monolithic nature of Blackness, amplifying numerous perspectives and inviting viewers to understand various identities and experiences.
This multiplicity of Blackness can be found in Kori’s personal work as well. She aims to amplify Blackness broadly through her pieces, and for her work to challenge audiences to think outside of traditional and expected confines and exist in – as she calls it, the gray area. “I’m trying to put viewers in the middle of whatever it is that I’ve created,” Kori states. “I want us to be in a gray area together.”
Aligned with this notion of complexity, the Blackity Black Black exhibition challenges audiences to embrace this liminal space. Part of what is most powerful about this exhibition is its unapologetic celebration of Blackness in its entirety– not just the beauty and joy that Black folks experience, but the challenges and the heartache – our humanity.
The Blackity Black Black exhibition takes up two floors at the McGuffey Arts Center and leaves audiences feeling moved, changed, and inspired. The show will run until April 2, 2023.
What’s up next for the CBAC? Currently, they’re working to expand their efforts. “If you are a Black artist and you’re interested in helping us grow and build and you have the time for it, we would love to have you,” Kori says. The CBAC hopes to hold more events, artist gatherings, and curate shows, continuing to incorporate as many artistic disciplines as possible.
As for Kori? She’s going to continue carving out time for her art, and move towards focusing on her artistic practice more fully. With no doubt, no matter what she does next, she will bring her multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach, and will continue to artistically thrive.
To learn more about the Charlottesville Black Arts Collective, visit charlottesvilleblackartscollective.com.
To learn more about Kori, visit koripricephotography.com.