"The idea of Black and white, these ideas don’t come from our history," Mensa told The Root.
SKIN + MASKS, a group art show curated by Grammy-nominated rapper Vic Mensa, decolonizes Black art by focusing on our individuality independent of the white gaze. Inspired by Frantz Fanon’s 1952 groundbreaking book “Black Skin, White Masks,” SKIN + MASKS marks Mensa’s first time serving as curator for an exhibit. He tells The Root how important it was for him to elevate the uniqueness of Black experiences.
“I was thinking about the ways in which our destinies and our creations and our forms of expression as Black people—which are artistic and humanistic and empathetic and emotional—are so often flattened into a caricature of what people believe we are...what we sometimes believe we are. How everyone involved is limited by the narrow concepts of race that we live inside of. It is such a modern invention that was not our invention. The idea of Black and white, these ideas don’t come from our history.”
Taking place at Chicago’s Kavi Gupta Gallery, SKIN + MASKS will feature nearly 30 artists—all carefully handpicked by Mensa.
Photo by Mahaneela.
“So many of the artists in the show are people that I know personally. It began with my personal relationships and then seeking the recommendations of those personal relationships...asking them who they rock with. Many of my personal friendships are [with] men and I can’t just have a show full of men. So then I started learning a lot more women artists and nonbinary artists. Artists from England, from Ghana, from South Africa. I also just moved from my intuition.”