The local museum Kunsthal Kade for the past 6 months had an exhibit of some 150 works by almost 50 African American artists spanning from the 1920’s Harlem Renaissance to today, titled TELL ME YOUR STORY. 100 years of storytelling in African American art.
Beautiful, compelling, and sometimes confronting works. All the more so given the renewed civil rights struggle in the USA in the past months.
The collages by Romare Bearden (1911-1988) jumped out at me. Apparently he created them in 1960’s and 70’s while listening to jazz and blues, “My hands sing the blues.”
The Kitchen Table series by Carrie Mae Weems I thought striking photography. Her 1990’s round red images from From here I saw what happened and I cried tells of so much pain, dehumanisation, cruelty, slavery, and injustice, tying it to the faces of individual humans, looking them into their eyes.
The powerful fragment shown in the exhibit comes from the end of that video, and started with a statement that, while not the key message, rings as personally true for me since my mid-twenties “I can’t be a pessimist, because I’m alive. […] So I’m forced to be an optimist.”