“I Am He” by Charly Palmer

Presence,” a show exhibiting more than 40 contemporary works all about the experience of Black fatherhood, is set to debut at ZuCot Gallery in Castleberry Hill on Friday, June 17. 

Opening just before Father’s Day and Juneteenth, this selection of artwork celebrates Black fatherhood in all of its forms. 

“The title of it came as I was writing the actual narrative [for the show]. I began to think about the idea of what presence means, how important it is to be in your children’s lives and even the presence of my own father,” said ZuCot partner and curator Onaje Henderson. “That narrative is rarely told for us, for Black men, and that was the impetus behind the show.”

ZuCot Gallery is the largest African American-owned fine arts gallery in the Southeast and features 3,500 square feet of exhibition spaces. ZuCot was founded by Fortune 500 corporate executive Troy Taylor who developed a passion for collecting art while traveling around the world for work. He bought a dirt-floor commercial space in Castleberry Hill and transformed it to one of the best art galleries in Atlanta. 

Showcasing the work of nine renowned African American artists, this exhibition explores Black fatherhood from all perspectives. 

“I thought it was important to have both men and women perspectives and cover everything from the person who did not grow up with a father to the widow whose husband just passed, to the ‘chosen’ father who has raised those who were not his biological children,’ added Henderson.

Untitled by Jerry Lynn

Featuring the works of Chanell Angeli, Georgette Baker, Horace Imhotep, Grace Kisa, Jerry Lynn, Charly Palmer, Steve Prince, Charlotte Riley-Webb and Aaron F. Henderson, who is also the father of the ZuCot partners, Onaje and Omari. 

“Sometimes fatherhood is an abstract concept. It’s not necessarily the father that you had in your house. It might be father figures or people who father you through life…people who you admire, people who inspire you, can father you in an abstract way,” said artist Grace Kisa in an interview. “There are men in my life that inspire me to give to other people in a different way or give of myself. There’s one particular man that I know. He doesn’t have children of his own, but he has fathered many, just by example, by generosity, by charity, by giving of himself and his time and sometimes his money to children that are without or to supplement those who have fathers that might not have his skill set.”  

View ‘Presence’ in person at ZuCot at the opening reception on Friday, June 17 from 6 – 10 p.m. It will be on display through Aug. 14. For more information and to RSVP, go to the gallery website

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.