Review: WE ARE 

Visual artists discussing the Black Lives Matter Movement

click to enlarge Sitting Colored by Mjiza Saundrajo Holida
  • Sitting Colored by Mjiza Saundrajo Holida

4 stars 

In its brochure copy, this exhibit claims to be relevant to the Black Lives Matter Movement. But the exhibit does more than just inspire a discussion, though a worthy enough goal. There's really great art here by African-American artists who are mostly new to me.

One whom I haven't heard of before is sculptor Keith Bullock, whose day job is as a welder. His "hobby" is making sculptures out of repurposed metal. The sculptures depicting head busts in "The Graduate" and "Life Splitting Headache" invoke the history of African sculpture with their slightly abstracted features. They might be viewed in the context of this exhibit as two ends of a continuum; the enormous achievement of Barack Obama on one end and the injustices and inequality still faced by many African-Americans on the other. (In this work, the depicted is quite literally carrying his head in his hands: a thin-fingered hand is the actual pedestal for the head.)

You could certainly read anguish into the untitled grayscale drawing "Untitled" by Bruce Armstrong depicting a man with eyes closed and mouth wide open, amazing in its rich detail and dark sepia tones, a counterpart to Munch's "The Scream." Contrast that with "Voyage" which, with its Marcus Garvey Pan-African Flag colors and flag-like composition goes beyond hard-edge type abstraction with its upward movement of color and line toward the upper-right of the canvas, suggesting hope.

Anthony Radford comes the closet to agitprop with his mixed media composition on board "Black Lives Matter" that makes an African mask out of the body of a vacuum component — where one of its two plastic eyes is shattered. Considering the "Hands up, Don't Shoot" text and other assorted text collaged into this work, this very well could be an abstracted representation of Trayvon Martin.

Saundrajo Holiday, the curator of this event, also had an acrylic on wood painting entitled "Sitting Colored," depicting a woman seated on the floor, head crouched in her hands. The woman is depicted in all colors of the rainbow, against a black background. Is she in despair, you may ask or is she just rekindling her inner energies?

There's a rainbow spectrum of talent available to see in this exhibition; one to inspire and provoke thought, one not to miss, one that could just as easily be entitled Black Art Matters.

Rapp Family Gallery, Indiana Landmarks Center


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