Celebrating Black History Month

20 February - 2 March 2021
  • Each February, we set aside time to remember the multitudinous ways Black culture has shaped everyday life for all people in the United States. While celebrating Black History, we also celebrate those artists of color working to construct America’s future.

    Since 1968, AFRICOBRA founders Gerald Williams, Jae Jarrell, and Wadsworth Jarrell have worked to synthesize the visual languages of the African diaspora. Their work has always been about envisioning what is to come. The indelible legacy of AFRICOBRA is rooted in the group’s forward-looking philosophy and in the belief that individual artists can help people visualize a better world to come.

    • Wadsworth Jarrell Homage to a Giant, 1970 Acrylic on board 48 x 90 x 3 in 121.9 x 228.6 x 7.6 cm
      Wadsworth Jarrell
      Homage to a Giant, 1970
      Acrylic on board
      48 x 90 x 3 in
      121.9 x 228.6 x 7.6 cm
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  • Painted at the height of the AFRICOBRA period, this image celebrates the life of Malcolm X, the giant to whom the title of the painting refers. We see a range of different images showing the humanity of this influential Black leader, including rare scenes with him smiling, pensively studious, laid back and cool. This picture epitomizes the philosophies that informed the foundation of AFRICOBRA, including the ideal of showing proud and positive images of Black heroes, and the ideal of capturing the complex humanity essential to the Black community, subverting the one-dimensional depictions normally associated with figures such as Malcolm X. Aesthetically, we see many formal visual strategies at work, including "Cool-Ade" colors, the use of text, the incorporation of a range of textures, and a mixture of figuration and abstract symbology.

     

  • Gerald Williams, Angela Davis, 1971

    Gerald Williams

    Angela Davis, 1971

    Angela Yvonne Davis was an influential member of the Black Panther Party during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and 70s. She remains today one of the most influential Black American civil rights activists and authors. Many AFRICOBRA members memorialized Davis in their artworks. This painting by Gerald Williams gives life to Davis' words, manifesting her ideas on justice, equal rights, and unity as part of the make-up of her very being. Throughout the image, we see the traditional gender symbol for female, an homage to Davis as a strong, confident, Black, female role model.

     

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    • Gerald Williams Family , 1976 Acrylic on canvas 51 x 34 x 1 1/2 in 129.5 x 86.4 x 3.8 cm
      Gerald Williams
      Family , 1976
      Acrylic on canvas
      51 x 34 x 1 1/2 in
      129.5 x 86.4 x 3.8 cm
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    • Gerald Williams Take It, 1971 Acrylic on masonite 50 x 50 x 2 1/2 in 127 x 127 x 6.3 cm
      Gerald Williams
      Take It, 1971
      Acrylic on masonite
      50 x 50 x 2 1/2 in
      127 x 127 x 6.3 cm
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    • Alfred Conteh Atlas, 2020 Acrylic and urethane plastic 77 x 83 x 3 in 195.6 x 210.8 x 7.6 cm
      Alfred Conteh
      Atlas, 2020
      Acrylic and urethane plastic
      77 x 83 x 3 in
      195.6 x 210.8 x 7.6 cm
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  • From his home base in Atlanta, GA, Alfred Conteh makes stunning paintings that speak critically to the toll white supremacist institutions take on Black Americans, while also showing the resilience and strength that sustain Black culture and communities. Conteh tells the truth of how bad things have been and continue to be, while urging us to open our eyes and press forward.

  • Alfred Conteh, Christina, 2020

    Alfred Conteh

    Christina, 2020

    This painting by Alfred Conteh is one of the latest in a series titled “Two Fronts.” For this series, Conteh paints the people that he meets where he lives and works in Atlanta. He presents his subjects as they really are, yet allegory is embedded heavily within the materiality of his work. His materials include battery acid, rust and metal dust, giving the surfaces of his paintings a quality similar to that of the decaying, neglected buildings that dot the landscape of the neighborhoods captured in his paintings. This is not just an aesthetic choice, but a call for viewers to confront the reality of the world we all live in.

     

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  • When Mickalene Thomas first embarked on her art career, she faced an art field largely lacking in positive, inclusive images of femininity—especially images of gay women and women of color. Thomas has worked tirelessly for more than 20 years, constructing a multi-layered, far-reaching oeuvre that powerfully expands public concepts of feminine beauty.

  • Devan Shimoyama makes work that challenges cultural norms and celebrates progress. While acknowledging the pressures he has faced as a gay, Black man, Shimoyama simultaneously explores issues like home buying, gardening, spirituality, and family, spotlighting everyday ways to take ownership of time, community, and culture.

    • Devan Shimoyama Tamir VI, 2019 Chains, silk flowers, rhinestones, beads, and fabric on swing seat Dimensions variable
      Devan Shimoyama
      Tamir VI, 2019
      Chains, silk flowers, rhinestones, beads, and fabric on swing seat
      Dimensions variable
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    • Devan Shimoyama Tamir VII, 2019 Chains, silk flowers, rhinestones, beads, and fabric on swing seat Dimensions variable
      Devan Shimoyama
      Tamir VII, 2019
      Chains, silk flowers, rhinestones, beads, and fabric on swing seat
      Dimensions variable
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    • Devan Shimoyama Tamir VIII, 2019 Chains, silk flowers, rhinestones, beads, and fabric on swing seat Dimensions variable
      Devan Shimoyama
      Tamir VIII, 2019
      Chains, silk flowers, rhinestones, beads, and fabric on swing seat
      Dimensions variable
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    • Devan Shimoyama Tamir III, 2018 Chains, silk flowers, rhinestones, beads, and fabric on swing seat Dimensions variable
      Devan Shimoyama
      Tamir III, 2018
      Chains, silk flowers, rhinestones, beads, and fabric on swing seat
      Dimensions variable
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    • Richard Hunt Tubing Form, 1966 Aluminum 36 x 44 x 40 in 91.4 x 111.8 x 101.6 cm
      Richard Hunt
      Tubing Form, 1966
      Aluminum
      36 x 44 x 40 in
      91.4 x 111.8 x 101.6 cm
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  • Born and raised amid the steel yards of south Chicago and the ecological wonderland of Lake Michigan, Richard Hunt pioneered a distinct, abstract visual language that perfectly encapsulates both the natural and built worlds in which he lives and works. What other Chicago abstract artist has ever so completely expressed the dynamic character of their community?

    • Richard Hunt Wall Piece Nine, 1989 Welded steel 18 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 11 in 47 x 24.1 x 27.9 cm
      Richard Hunt
      Wall Piece Nine, 1989
      Welded steel
      18 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 11 in
      47 x 24.1 x 27.9 cm
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    • Richard Hunt Hanging Form, 1962 Welded steel 60 x 10 in 152.4 x 25.4 cm
      Richard Hunt
      Hanging Form, 1962
      Welded steel
      60 x 10 in
      152.4 x 25.4 cm
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    • Richard Hunt Wall Piece Seven, 1989 Welded steel 17 x 13 1/2 x 7 1/4 in 43.2 x 34.3 x 18.4 cm
      Richard Hunt
      Wall Piece Seven, 1989
      Welded steel
      17 x 13 1/2 x 7 1/4 in
      43.2 x 34.3 x 18.4 cm
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  • Kavi Gupta celebrates the diverse perspectives of these, and all artists of color whose work we have the privilege to exhibit and represent, including Dominican-born New York-based artist Firelei Báez, AFRICOBRA member Sherman Beck, conceptual artist Willie Cole, multidisciplinary Haitian, Canadian based artist Manuel Mathieu, South African sculptor, photographer and installation artist Mary Sibande, and abstract sculptor Kennedy Yanko. Along with the curators, historians, critics, teachers, and collectors working to diversify and equalize the contemporary art field, these extraordinary artists exemplify what it means when we say culture is created by communities. Whether equity, justice, and true representation become the norm for all Americans hinges on the thoughts we embrace today and the culture we create right now. Happy Black History Month.

    • Sherman Beck Then & Now, 1972/2015 Oil on canvas 36 x 24 in 91.4 x 61 cm
      Sherman Beck
      Then & Now, 1972/2015
      Oil on canvas
      36 x 24 in
      91.4 x 61 cm
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    • Willie Cole Mother and Child, 2020 Bronze 40 x 25 x 15 in 101.6 x 63.5 x 38.1 cm Indoor / Outdoor
      Willie Cole
      Mother and Child, 2020
      Bronze
      40 x 25 x 15 in
      101.6 x 63.5 x 38.1 cm
      Indoor / Outdoor
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    • Manuel Mathieu Overlooking Gaze, 2019 Acrylic, chalk, charcoal, and tape on canvas 48 1/8 x 59 1/4 in 122 x 150.5 cm
      Manuel Mathieu
      Overlooking Gaze, 2019
      Acrylic, chalk, charcoal, and tape on canvas
      48 1/8 x 59 1/4 in
      122 x 150.5 cm
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