AFRICOBRA: Philosophy: Logan Center Gallery | Chicago, IL
AFRICOBRA in Chicago is a linked series of exhibitions and public programs scheduled May–September 2013 focusing on the Chicago artist group AFRICOBRA (African Commune Of Bad Relevant Artists), founded in 1968 and still active. The founding members, Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, and Gerald Williams, came together in 1968 on the South Side of Chicago and had a lasting impact on peers and subsequent generations. This project examines AFRICOBRA’s broader contexts, its history, and its immediate and continuing impact on contemporary art and culture. It will also create opportunities for educational engagement with the collective’s work and philosophy.
AFRICOBRA in Chicago is co-presented by three South Side institutions: The South Side Community Art Center, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, and The DuSable Museum of African American History. Find details and dates above and below. A jointly published website, dedicated to the exhibitions, programs, and research, will launch in May 2013 and will see continued development through the run of the exhibitions.
In 1968, the five founding members of AFRICOBRA created an aesthetic philosophy to guide their collective work—a shared visual language for positive revolutionary ideas. Several members worked together on the “Wall of Respect,” a mural at 43rd Street and Langley in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. Early exhibitions and meetings were held in nearby Woodlawn. The group defined its mission as “an approach to image making which would reflect and project the moods, attitudes, and sensibilities of African Americans independent of the technical and aesthetic strictures of Euro-centric modalities.”
In the spirit of AFRICOBRA’s philosophy, which emphasized educational values and a group ethos (“to transcend the ‘I’ or ‘me’ for the ‘us’ or ‘we’”), three South Side institutions have come together in collaboration. Intense periods of adult and youth programming will coincide with the short overlap between each exhibition closing and the next opening.
AFRICOBRA: Philosophy. The exhibition at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (June 28–August 11, 2013), curated by Rebecca Zorach, a professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago, who is also guiding the student-driven curatorial framework of the SSCAC exhibition, is designed to highlight the aesthetic philosophy of AFRICOBRA first articulated in statements and exhibition text in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The exhibition in the Logan Center Gallery will demonstrate how the AFRICOBRA philosophy was collaboratively developed by the five founding members, through a presentation of key early works and selected current works, raising the question of how founding principles continue to inform each artist. The exhibition also features selected works by three additional members (Napoleon Jones-Henderson, Carolyn Lawrence and Nelson Stevens), who joined shortly after the inception of AFRICOBRA. Themes to be addressed include the revolutionary politics of the period, the project of bringing art to the people through a range of media, and the relationship of gender roles and family to the political context of the time.
Artists include Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Napoleon Jones-Henderson, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Carolyn Lawrence, Nelson Stevens, Gerald Williams.
— Curatorial text courtesy The Logan Center
Jae JarrellBrothers Surrounding Sis, 1970Acrylic paint on suedeDimensions variable
Jae JarrellFrock You, 1994Wool, wood, mixed media73 1/4 x 48 3/8 x 6 in
185.9 x 122.9 x 15.2 cm
Gerald WilliamsWake Up , 1971Screenprint on wove paper42 x 28 in
106.7 x 71.1 cm
Jeff Donaldson, Victory in the Valley of Eshu, 1971