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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.