Breadth of aesthetic style and depth of subject matter immediately impress in 'REPRESENT: Celebrating Indiana's African-American Artists,' the first exhibition to show the extent to which African-American artists have contributed to the cultural history of Indiana. As curated and hung by Rachel Berenson Perry and Kisha Tandy, the works are presented as both a narrative across time from the 1900s to the present. It's helpful to read Perry’s exhibition catalog introduction, and even more satisfying to visit more than once.
Small in size but huge in scope, REPRESENT takes us all the way from the realities of William Edouard Scott’s 1912 Parisian streets (a forlorn mother and child) to William Rasdell’s 2009 South Africa locale (photos seemingly happy boys, subtly defaced by symbols of gang influence). Wayne Manns upends upends traditional historical narratives by placing a very different cast of characters in the boat at Valley Forge, while Walter Lobyn Hamilton re-uses what we throw away, creating a monumental hairdo from broken vinyl records.
Mae Engron concentrates on connectivity via bright, flowery landscapes; Vance Farrow electrifies with negativity with his landscapes in duotone. Jerome Neal shakes his fingers at so-called truisms via his cellphones in blackface; Roderic Traube celebrates accomplishments despite odds in his portraits.
And so it goes throughout the hall with so much to capture attention about our state of being, to expand imagination and to celebrate the soul. Through July 15 at the Indiana State Museum.