News / Arts & Entertainment

Art Show Explores African American Identity

Deborah Block

A new exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington is showcasing the work of African-American artists working over the past three decades.  The exhibit of paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures is called “30 Americans” and examines black identity in the United States.  The idea is that African Americans are simply Americans.

Sarah Newman, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Corcoran, says the show is as diverse as the artists themselves.

"This exhibit is just so remarkable because it gives a sense of the last 30 years really, not only in contemporary African American art but in contemporary art in general." she said.  "And you really get a sense on how generations interact with each other and you get a sense of the way identity has been figured throughout time."

The pieces come from the Rubell Family Collection in Miami. Donald Rubell says the show examines themes such as slavery, civil rights, and the representation of blacks in popular culture.

“A lot of the artworks here deal with very specific points in time - sometimes very difficult times in history, sometimes very joyous times in history,” he said.

“Branded Head"
“Branded Head"

Photographer Hank Willis Thomas combines advertising photography with images that refer to slavery.  One is called “Branded Head.”

“And ‘Branded Head' to me speaks to me about how African-American slaves were branded as a sign of ownership and how today so many of their decendents brand themselves with corporate brands that we wear,” he said.

Thomas has a separate exhibit at the Corcoran with more of his photographs.

“Basketball and sports are a major American spectacle," he said.  "A major American spectacle of the early 20th century was lynching.”

Baronhawk Williams came to see the artwork.  He was impressed by a painting from artist Kahinde Wiley.

“You normally wouldn’t see a beautiful painting of a black male. Thank you.  I’ve been waiting to see something like this for 23 years,”  he said.

Painter Nina Chanel Abney created portraits.

“Rubber gloves are typically something I use throughout my work, and I initially started to use them to identify figures who are maybe protecting themselves from harm, or maybe being involved in some type of dirty work that they don’t want to take responsibility for,” she said.

Shinique Smith, a sculptor, says she finds inspiration in the urban landscape.  She uses trash as treasure, recycling used clothing, old magazines, even garbage she finds on the street.  She used a variety of materials to create her female fantasy warrior.

“Plastic tablecloths, there’s designer clothing mixed with old futon covers," she said.  "So in some sense we're all connected by the things we purchase and discard through consumerism."

The exhibit is on the second stop of a three-city tour in the United States and will be at the Corcoran through mid-February 2012.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

New Orleans-based Water Seed joins Shawna Renee inside the "Soul Lounge" where they introduce listeners to their latest album, a wonderful fusion of jazz, soul and rhythm & blues. The group also explains how the heart of New Orleans influences each of them as musicians and songwriters.