For the last twenty-three years, the Richmond Art Center has hosted The Art of Living Black exhibition. Last Saturday was an artist talk and opening reception. The venue was packed with artists, collectors, and supporters. Greatness was on display in Richmond!
According to the Richmond Art Center website: “Co-founded by the late Jan Hart-Schuyers and the late Rae Louise Hayward, The Art of Living Black is the longest running event of its kind in the Bay Area to feature artists of African descent. The 23rd Art of Living Black presents an exhibition of over 100 works at the Richmond Art Center, as well as Open Studios and Satellite Exhibitions at locations across the Bay Area.”
The exhibition featured a multitude of artists and women dominated. Donna Gatson’s incredible jewelry highlights the artist’s family’s history. The Art of Living Black curator and artist Marva Reed’s sculpture showcased the strength of femininity. While Abi Mustapha’s East African Woman reminds the viewer of elder wisdom. Artist Rostum Nosa Okungbowa’s Justice in Fugit empowers Lady Justice in democracy. Karen Oyekanmi’s Dance for Lillie is a dance for all. Brilliantly, Renata Gray celebrates universal values in Sistahs.
The history of material was a common and necessary theme. Brian King’s Kosciusko, MS hauntingly lingers while Claude Clark’s Walking Stick With Figure supports. Latisha Baker’s Lay Your Burden burns with memory. From Baker’s website: “latisha baker is a self-taught pyrographic (firewriter) artist, who utilizes woodburning, a primitive technique on reclaimed and recycled wood to create her work. She captures stories through visual interpretations of life in honor of the human spirit.”
Abstracted constructions mimic the resilience of the human spirit. Donna Mekeda Bradley’s Cracked Not Broken embodies a multifaceted persona. Charles Tuggle revives melody in line and form in Jazz. Similarly, artist Donald Greene resurrects the Royal Egyptian Nubian. From Greene’s website: “My belief is that the natural environment is the form and foundation of art. The human environment- social, economic, religious, reflective, interpretive- is shaped by the creative mind which draws from the natural environment. Thus, one learns, interprets, creates and teaches.”
Gesture speaks truth. Artist Gene Dominique’s A Farmer’s Hands endure years of work. In Mars Twin, artist Val Kai captures a poise of intention. Xan Blood Walker’s Magic Lady of Water Earth Sky protects territory. From Walker’s website: “Creativity exists in the part of the brain that experiences emotion and dreams, and I believe this very important creative aspect is underrepresented and undervalued in our culture and in the world.”
Artists extend concept beyond canvas. Taylor Made’s The Black Woman is God is a temple filled of endurance. Through an abstract language, Dulama LeGrande’s katika hali ya hisia translates to “in emotional state” in Swahili. In Iconoclast #2, artist Chance Garrick Williams frames the power of words. Williams’ Tumblr: “Born in Los Angeles in 1968, Chance Garrick Williams is a freelance photographer, latent filmmaker, and interdisciplinary artist working at intersections of identity, memory, history, and landscape.”
Iconic figures receive proper praise. Rasheid Lattimore memorializes rapper Tupac in Keep Your Head Up. Virginia Jourdan’s Michelle Obama is the crown to Thomas Tandy’s GODDESS. From Jourdan’s website: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
The Art of Living Black exhibition resonates and thrives at the Richmond Art Center till March 8, 2019.