Doubt and Defiance

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Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space is very pleased to present Doubt and Defiance, featuring new and recent work by artist Calli Roche, 2022-2023 alum of AAI’s LES Studio Program. 

Calli’s latest exhibition serves as a profound exploration of one’s true self through understanding the depths of human identity in the present moment. 

The works on view are objects that remain from Calli’s ongoing insistence and struggle to remain in a space, portal, or undetermined interim of doubt. Various portals and windows mark different ways Calli is choosing peace and presence in the midst of chaos; by cultivating life and connection therein. This exhibit is a continuation of previous art made and shared, and again, the art is offered up as an invitation.

Doubt and Defiance includes several sculptural works that feature or refer to Calli’s constructed box, a recurring motif in the artist’s practice that explores themes of confinement and liberation that challenge present social constructs and explore how we deconstruct the world that confines us.  

Calli highlights the intricate nature of survival and identity and how, through those experiences of perseverance, our character is firmly molded. The use of found objects—wood, leather, fencing wire, muslin—serves as a reflection of the artist’s own struggle to embrace a world that may not embrace them. Through using natural materials, Roche is able to mimic the aging process and material properties of human bodies, drawing further comparisons between the tangible world around us and our own physical forms. 

Calli Roche (she/they) is a Brooklyn-based artist whose own creative lineage lies in tailoring and dressmaking. Their great-grandfather was a tailor in St. Kitts; their great-aunt was a dressmaker in the Bronx, and their great-uncle was a costume maker for the Birmingham, UK carnival. Like so many Black people, poor people, and Black poor women, Calli has often tailored their creativity to an income-generating praxis. The art practices of many Black women still reference these “practical” skills, disrupting western distinctions between art and craft. Frequently working with reclaimed materials, which take on varied ontological significance, yet frequently reference the fraught relationships between violence, identity, and sexuality. Calli uses their sewing and pattern-making background to create artifacts to reflect and reference socio-political narratives. Roche has shown at the Colored Girls Museum (Philadelphia), Housing Gallery (New York), Aggregate Space Gallery (Oakland), and Gallérie Perrotin (New York). They were the 2021 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Interdisciplinary Work, and an artist-in-residence at Field Projects Gallery and Artists Alliance LES Studio Program.

Special thanks to Jalen Kendrick, curatorial assistant.

Cuchifritos Gallery is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Exhibition programming is made possible by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and the National Endowment for the Arts. We thank the New York City Economic Development Corporation and individual supporters of Artists Alliance Inc for their continued support. Special thanks go to our team of dedicated volunteers and interns, without whom this program would not be possible.