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Art Thu Jun 20 2013

Art for The People: AFRICOBRA

For 45 years, AFRICOBRA (African Commune Of Bad Relevant Artists) has put the political and social views of African Americans on display through visual art. A coalition of five artists began AFRICOBRA on Chicago's South Side in 1968. Their goal? "To encapsulate the quintessential features of African American consciousness and world view as reflected in real time," reads the homepage of the AFRICOBRA website. Artists Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, and Gerald Williams wanted to bring an authentically black voice and aesthetic, more often depicted in music and dance, to the world of visual art.

SSCAC-White-400.jpg
Charles White, Just A Walk With Thee, 1958, Linocut, 12.75x45in

The works by AFRICOBRA's five founding artists as well as works by Napoleon Jones-Henderson, Carolyn Lawrence and Nelson Stevens will be on display at the Logan Center Gallery starting June 28. The opening at the Logan Center is the second of a three part series showing at three different Chicago locations. The first of the AFRICOBRA in Chicago exhibitions, AFRICOBRA: Prologue-The 1960's and the Black Arts Movement began in May at the South Side Community Art Center; followed by, AFRICOBRA: Philosophy, beginning soon at the Logan Center; and the final exhibition, AFRICOBRA: Art and Impact, will be held at the DuSable Museum from July until the end of September.

Each exhibition is a local look at themes that caused global change in the middle of the twentieth century for Blacks from America to Africa who were demanding rights from labor equality to political independence under colonial rule. This global tide of revolution brought issues concerning gender, cultural identity, family, faith and political and social disparities caused by oppressive bureaucracy to center stage. These issues, however, were not just the topics of politicians--they became the inspiration for artists.

It would be a mistake, though, to think that AFRICOBRA in Chicago is only a look at history or a glimpse into the past--or past emotions, past perspectives, or past issues. The exhibitions are equally a look at the present and offer an opportunity for people to take a critical look at the future of urban communities still struggling with the problems of a poverty gap. Any visitor to the Logan Center AFRICOBRA: Philosophy exhibition will find prints, paintings and textile work, but will also find film screenings on select days, panel discussions and speaker presentations that will fully immerse patrons in discovering Chicago's past as well as how similar issues influence artists and art movements today.

It seems that the intention of the five founding AFRICOBRA artists, in addition to revealing the intricacies of black voices and experiences, also wanted to make heritage and history tangible to the people who needed it the most--those with limited access to positive images of people with whom they could identify. AFRICOBRA's presentation of artwork "for the people" stands to unite rather than marginalize and empower rather than demoralize.

~*~

Visit AFRICOBRA: Philosophy June 28-August 11. The opening reception, free and open to the public, will be held June 28, from 6pm to 9pm, at Logan Center Gallery, 915 E. 60th St. For more information about this art series, visit AFRICOBRA in Chicago.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

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By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

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