AfriCOBRA

AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) is an African American artist collective formed in Chicago in 1968. The five founding members of the group were Jeff Donaldson, Wadsworth Jarrell, Jae Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu and Gerald Williams. Other early members who joined in the late 1960s and 1970s included Nelson Stevens, Napoleon Jones-Henderson, Carolyn Lawrence, Frank Smith and James Phillips.AfriCOBRA artists were associated with the Black Arts Movement in America, a movement that began in the mid 1960s and that celebrated culturally specific expressions of the contemporary Black community in the realms of literature, theater, dance and the visual arts. When the group originally formed in 1968, they called themselves the Coalition of Black Revolutionary Artists (COBRA). By early 1970, as the group prepared for its first major exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem, they were calling themselves the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA). The creators wanted the works to be accessible, so they made poster art that was designed for mass production. AfriCOBRA, worked to make African American art a community effort. Much of the visual aesthetic of these works are focused on social, political, and economical conditions related to Black Americans. They created a manifesto entitled, “Ten in Search of a Nation” in 1969.

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/Dialogues at EXPO CHICAGO

Symposium | Present Histories:
Art & Design in Chicago

Friday, September 28, 2018.

AfriCOBRA: Chicago in the Age of Black Power

This panel is presented in alignment with Art Design Chicago exhibitions at the Smart Museum of Art and the DuSable Museum of African American History, “South Side Stories: Rethinking Chicago Art, 1960–1980” and “South Side Stories: Holdings”, which focuses on the Black Arts Movement—from the Civil Rights Movement to AfriCOBRA.

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Catalogue from the 1977 AFRICOBRA/FARAFINDUGO show at the Afro-American Historic & Cultural Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Africobra’s call for new work for a commemorative exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters.

Buffalo Courier Express article on “Africobra II” at the Langston Hughes Center.

Newspaper article by Harry Long covering AfriCOBRA I at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

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AfriCOBRA — The Art and Artists of AfriCOBRA: An Introduction
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An introduction to AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), an African American artist collective formed in Chicago in 1968.

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AfriCOBRA — The Wall of Respect
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One of the most notable works was the commemoration of black revolutionaries in the Wall of Respect that was painted by the members of the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC). Jeff Donaldson, Wadsworth Jarrell, Gerald Williams, and Barbara Jones-Hogu were members originally who later on formed AfriCOBRA, as well as Sylvia Abernathy, Myrna Weaver and others. This wall also became as Barbara Jones-Hogu writes, “…a visual symbol of Black nationalism and liberation.”

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