During my second year in graduate school at Illinois State University, I wanted to create a space for artists of color to heal and let go of the microaggressions impacting us daily. I worked with a full-time art faculty member who wanted to change the social climate among the students, so we began organizing an open forum I called the Black Artist Cultural Mixer. The mixer offered refreshments and camaraderie for artists of African identity in the School of Art to have a collective discussion about identity and artistic practice. I was thrilled to walk into a classroom of rap music and smiling faces breaking bread in solidarity. This meeting, and the general push back I felt as the only black artist of authority in the department, motivated me to curate a group exhibition resisting post-Black aesthetics. My goal was to expand the boundaries of what Black art looks like and educate the community about the marginalized artist in higher education. The exhibition was titled (Re)Vision What Is Post-Black Art, and featured work from emerging artists working in two-dimensional and object-based art forms. I held an artist talk following the opening night where I interviewed a MFA candidate in New York with a compelling vinyl crossword puzzle in the show.
Mission: (Re)Vision seeks to contribute to the conversation about post-black art by showcasing emerging artists exploring affirming possibilities of black identity: in the artwork and upon themselves as producers. A corresponding artist talk will examine the efforts of black artist collectives and movements in a discussion about privilege, power, and access to knowledge for artists of color in the academy.
The selected works demonstrate a variety of subject matter and aesthetic approaches with materials, process, and its connection to re-present historical and social understandings of black identity in America.
These fresh and captivating artworks do more than commemorate history, they bring spirit and uniqueness to an ongoing linage of artistic social engagement.