a look into Black found object artists through the soul of a nation exhibition
so often when mike and i travel we like to visit museums. we started discussing how we only visit those sopped with white artists - specifically old white men - and want to make a more conscious effort to not do that. when visiting los angeles last month, mike and i set out to educate ourselves on this country's true history through the eyes of the Black community.
we came across the soul of a nation: art in the age of black power exhibition at the broad museum in los angeles. we were touched by the various artists and their works and vision immediately upon entering the exhibit. i was naturally drawn to the found object creators and was given a new perspective through their work; a perspective of found object art as a necessity.
Melvin Edwards - the definition of found object art coming of age at a time when it was needed most. overlooked because of the color of his skin, immortalized because of his refusal to quit. many pieces are constructed of materials such as chain links, machine parts and railroad ties making it impossible to ignore their association with subjects such as slavery, oppression and segregation. (source: alexandergray.com)
David Hammons - spanning many different art forms, he was instrumental in turning the fine art world on its head. “the art audience is the worst audience in the world. it’s overly educated, it’s conservative, it’s out to criticize not to understand, and it never has any fun. why should i spend my time playing to that audience?” truly a poignant voice whose works are ripe with themes of the systemic degradation and marginalization of Black people. (source:artnet.com)
John Outterbridge - masterpieces in assemblage, care of john outterbridge. “outterbridge saw this aesthetic at work during his childhood in the depression-era south, which included herbal healing pouches stitched by his grandmother and a backyard filled with objects his father salvaged from hauling jobs. in 1963, by way of a european military tour and art school in chicago, he arrived in los angeles where the local junkyards, burgeoning aerospace industries, and lively contemporary art scene formed the ideal environment for him to develop his assemblage practice.” slavery, socio-political issues and rebellion are dominant themes in his work. (source: nga.gov)
personally, this exhibition gave me a new look into the Black art world that i admittedly knew little about. it taught me the importance of found object art beyond my small world of environmentalism and reuse. it gave me a perspective of necessity and activism for Black people in art and the everyday. there were so many beautiful artists and works in this exhibition and i urge you to attend if you can.