There is a shift in our social paradigm as society becomes more reflective of the world’s diversity through art, media and culture. Across the globe, the African diaspora is exploring identity through empowering lens and shaping the narrative by portraying images of black people as beautiful, cultural purveyors. As these images are featured more and more throughout our culture, we proclaim a euphoric…Yes!!!..and anticipate the next level of #blackmagic.
This shift, however, does take place in a vacuum, but surges due to a collective push for more diversity at the table with institutionalized vanguards. Having a seat at the table allows for greater access to the next generation and provides a space for these cultural engineers to reshape our realities and re-imagine a more equitable future.
Let’s focus on 3 moments from 2018 that produced a significant culture shift that will pave the way for the next generation to build upon as they take their seat at the table.
The Rise of Afro-futuristic Art – The term Afrofuturism was first coined by Mark Dery in 1994. According to Inverse, it “describes an artform, practice, and methodology that allows black people to see themselves in the future despite a distressing past and present”. Afrofuturism is a genre of both fantasy and realism that grew increasingly popular with the release of the movie Black Panther and the book Children of Blood & Bone which became a #1 New York Times best seller.
The importance of this genre is that by “empowering people to see themselves and their ideas in the future gives rise to innovators and freethinkers.” The possibilities become endless in ways that black people can become the central characters in various art forms, thereby reshaping our cultural perspective.
The Passing of Amendment 4 – With the stroke of a pen, an estimated 1.5 mil people regained their right to vote. Previously there was a lifetime ban on the right to vote for felons and only with a governor’s pardon could they regain their voting rights. However, the new legislation crushed one of the oppressive remnants from the Jim Crow era by allowing a previously disenfranchised group of predominantly black people to freely engage in the electoral process.
Record Breaking Sales of Black Art– Last year Diddy made headlines when he purchased Past Times by Kerry James Marshall for $21.1mil. The purchase made it the highest purchase for any artwork done by a living black artist.
Another epic moment in the black art world happened when Kehinde Wiley was commissioned to paint Barack Obama’s Presidential Portrait, making him the first black artist to receive this honor. Record breaking moments like these dismantle oppressive narratives and create new ones where black art is considered “good art” and worthy of greater attention from museums and galleries.
MUCE’s As A Matter of Black: A Seat At The Table Exhibition furthers this conversation by showcasing a collective of visual artists that explores the table as a constant to discuss a seat at the table in the context of family, food, policy and celebration of the Black life experience. Artists bring the concept to life through visual painting, sculpture, and storytelling.