Last weekend was the 22nd Annual The Art of Living Black artist talk at the Richmond Art Center. The exhibit is a thoughtful curation featuring a collection of powerful and dynamic artworks. One doesn’t have to go far to witness greatness. Richmond leads once again truthfully.
From the Richmond Art Center’s website: “The Art of Living Black, now in its 22nd year, speaks to a long history of social struggles, cultural affirmation, and art making as a transformative practice. As a preview exhibition and self-guided open studio art tour that recognizes Bay Area artists of African American descent, the exhibition contains a vast range of artistic endeavors, styles and media that references forgotten cultural histories, struggles and personal identity. Here, it is the artists’ ability to construct meaning for themselves and others that defines the significance of the work.”
Oakland artist Kelvin Curry’s pastels highlight graphic linear elements with brilliant color echoing the familiar and unfamiliar. Curry was the 2017 winner of the Jan Hart Schuyers Artistic Achievement Award. Rasheid Lattimore’s purposeful use of line links the viewer back to reality. Both Curry and Lattimore address identity one section and layer at a time.
Nye’Lyn Tho’s artwork bridges mixed media and photography within personal experience. From Tho’s website: “Natural Heir is about embracing the natural state of our hair, our lineage, and our truth. I, like most people, was taught to believe that only straight and soft hair was good hair. Wild, rough, kinky and ‘nappy’ hair was the worst thing you could have dancing on your head. To shun my natural crown because it didn’t measure up to society’s description of beauty began to feel like self-hatred and ancestral disgust. We are the heirs of greatness. There is rich & beautiful culture embedded in every coil within each of us. We are of earth, of nature and I think it is important to have a healthy and loving connection to it.”
The late sculptor Jan Hart-Schuyers co-founded The Art of Living Black exhibit. Reflecting wisdom, Hart-Schuyers’ stoic art immediately demands the viewer’s attention. Nearby, Michael Johnson’s photography strikes a parallel sentiment and purpose: art must speak to legacy and history.
Karen Oyekanmi’s A Mother’s Wish is an impeccably crafted and poignant piece standing firm on the world’s pedestal. Looking towards the light guarding the future, Oyesknmi’s art serves as a beacon. Similarly, Ronald Owen’s Race Time Continuum glances right indicating the fate of humanity. History is like a clock: racing forward repurposing vestiges and fragments.
After a recent trip to New York City visiting numerous galleries, The Art of Living Black exhibit delivered and more. I want to engage in an inclusive human experience void of an alternative fact world. Commodification is suffocating, repressing, and editing experience. Art critic Robert Hughes in The Mona Lisa Curse: “If art can’t tell us about the world we live in, then I don’t believe there’s much point in having it…”
The Art of Living Black. Richmond Art Center. Richmond, CA. January 16 – March 8, 2018.