AfriCOBRA

Bio

AFRICOBRA™, or the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists, was an artist collective founded on the south side of Chicago in 1968. The group had its roots in the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC), which used art to address social and cultural challenges affecting the African American community. One of the most high profile projects OBAC accomplished was the Wall of Respect, a monumental mural painted on the side of a business in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago in 1967.

 

The five founders of AFRICOBRA™ were Jeff Donaldson, Wadsworth Jarrell, Jae Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu and Gerald Williams. Another early collabo-rator was the artist Robert Paige, in whose home some of the early meetings of the group were hosted. Over the next few years, Nelson Stevens, Napoleon Jones-Henderson, Carolyn Lawrence, Frank Smith and James Phillips joined the group.

 

The AFRICOBRA™ founders showed their work in a series of landmark traveling exhibitions, which attracted nationwide attention. By the time their first exhibition reached the Studio Museum in Harlem in the early 1970s, the group’s aesthetic had begun to define the look of the Black Arts Movement.

Exhibition History

2019

Soul Of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, The Broad, Los Angeles, CA (upcoming)

2018

AfriCOBRA: Messages to the People, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, FL(upcoming)

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (upcoming)

The Time is Now! Art Worlds of Chicago’s South Side, 1960-1980, Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL

AfriCOBRA: Now, Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York NY

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR

2017

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Tate Modern, London, UK

2016

The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to now, ICA Philadelphia, PA

2015

The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to now, curated by Noami Beckwith and Dieter Roelstraete, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, IL

2013

AFRICOBRA: Prologue- The 1960s and The Black Arts Movement, The Southside Community Arts Center, Chicago, IL

 

AFRICOBRA: Philosophy, Logan Center Gallery, Chicago, IL

 

AFRICOBRA: Art and Impact, The DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago, IL

1977

AfriCOBRA/Farafindugu, Afro-American Historic & Cultural Museum, Philadelphia, PA

1973

Afri-COBRA III, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA

Afri-COBRA III, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

1972

Afri-COBRA II, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL

Afri-COBRA II, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Afri-COBRA II, Malcom X College, Chicago, IL

Afri-COBRA II, Hati Gallery, Rochester, NY

Afri-COBRA II, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY

1971

Afri-COBRA II, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

Afri-COBRA II, Langston Hughes Center for Visual & Performing Arts, Buffalo, NY

Afri-COBRA I, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL

 

1970

Afri-COBRA I, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

Afri-COBRA I, Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Roxbury, MA

Afri-COBRA I, Black Expo, Chicago, IL

 

Exhibitions

Projects

Historic Material

Video

Press

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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
Information

An introduction to AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), an African American artist collective formed in Chicago in 1968.

Video
AfriCOBRA — The Wall of Respect
Information

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.”

Video