Jeremy Dennis, curator of the "BIPOC Experience" exhibit, and Brenda Simmons,...

Jeremy Dennis, curator of the "BIPOC Experience" exhibit, and Brenda Simmons, executive director of the Southampton African American Museum, where the exhibit is on display until July 3. Credit: John Roca

Jeremy Dennis, who is curating an exhibition now at the Southampton African American Museum, says he wants to change the perception of who makes up the community on the East End.

“We think of it as the wealthy, usually privileged white people can only afford to live here and have only lived here,” said Dennis, a photographer who is among the artists of color whose works are in the exhibit.

“It’s important to acknowledge communities that have been resilient through the changes, gentrification, the impossibility of getting rent or building housing out here,” said Dennis, who is a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton.

Titled the "BIPOC Experience," the exhibit focuses on the expression of hair and is a nod to the fact that the museum on North Sea Road was previously a barbershop and beauty parlor. (BIPOC stands for Black, indigenous, and people of color.)

    A work of art created by Brianna L. Hernández on display in...

    A work of art created by Brianna L. Hernández on display in the "BIPOC Experience" exhibit at the Southampton African American Museum. Credit: John Roca

    From a photo of a barbershop to a painting of beadwork, about 25 pieces of work will be on display from Sunday to July 3 by 13 artists, most of whom reside in Suffolk County.

    Museum tours and gallery hours are Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. by appointment which can be booked by visiting www.saamuseum.org or calling 631-353-3299.

    Brianna L. Hernández, a Chicana artist, will have a photograph of her holding hair from her mother, who passed away, in a glass box.

    Titled “Tengo tu pelo bonito, largo, moreno, y rizado” which in English is “I have your beautiful hair, long, dark, and curly” Hernandez, a resident in the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, said the photograph is a newer work in a series of her photos about grief, loss and end of life care.

    Candace Hill Montgomery will have a piece that was weaved using human hair, and have bright colors including green and yellow, titled “Happy Accidents Happen in Silence & Other Pet Peeves.” Along with an oil painting called “Brush Out Pick,” the Bridgehampton resident, said the pieces represent how “we as Black people think of hair and the humor that is enjoined in the thinking about how to look different.”

    The exhibit is among several rotating in the art and photo gallery, research center and community facility which will celebrate its first anniversary on Juneteenth, the June 19 state holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in America.

    Brenda Simmons, founder and executive director of the museum, wants to have more artists of color exhibiting their work even as their community shrinks. The Black population in the Hamptons fell between 2010 and 2020, while the numbers of Hispanics and white inhabitants grew, according to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau.

    “It’s more critical now more than ever to continue to have more information and the population being educated about the Black experience and the Black community,” Simmons said.

    'BIPOC Experience'

    • The exhibit runs from May 22 to July 3 at the Southampton African American Museum
    • Gallery hours are Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Visiting the museum requires an appointment, which can be booked at saamuseum.org or by calling 631-353-3299.

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