PAST FORWARD: African Spirituality in Contemporary Black Art
Sargeant Johnson Gallery (1st Floor)
April 8 – August 19, 2010
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 8, 2010 6-8pm
The African American Art and Culture Complex presents Past Forward: African Spirituality in Contemporary Black Art, an exhibition organized and curated by Demetrie Broxton. Past Forward brings together a multigenerational group of seven Bay Area artists of African descent whose works consciously reawaken and revisit spiritual forms originating in Africa and passed down through the generations. Including 16 works of sculpture, photography, assemblage, and video, each of the works resurrects a traditional African shamanistic aesthetic while remaining unquestionably contemporary. On view in the 1st Floor Sargent Johnson Gallery.
The artists highlighted in Past Forward look to the sacred arts, symbols, and rituals of Central and West Africa to reclaim aspects of African knowledge systems which were forced underground through the experiences of the Middle Passage and slavery in the “New World”. Whether each of the artists has physically stepped foot on African soil or not, their art serves as a vehicle to psychically journey back through “The Door of No Return”. Thus, in “returning” to Africa for inspiration, each artist is able to ground his or herself in an aesthetic tradition which originates in Africa rather than being steeped in Western art traditions.
“The exhibition explores the aesthetic approaches taken by a select group of African American artists connecting to a history pre-dating slavery,” said Demetrie Broxton, curator of Past Forward. “The works assembled encompass the ways in which cultural memory can survive and transcend both time and space.”
“We are so proud to share Past Forward at the African American Art & Culture Complex,” said Melorra Green, AAACC Visual Arts Coordinator. “An exhibition like this is significant in dispelling myths and preserving the rich African culture that so many do not understand and could possibly be afraid of.”
Demetrie Broxton is an artist, educator, and independent curator. Broxton most recently co-curated Decoding Identity: I Do it for My People at Museum of the African Diaspora Jan. 23, 2009 – March 22, 2009.
PAST FORWARD: African Spirituality in Contemporary Black Art will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring texts by Demetrie Broxton, Duane Deterville, and Jacqueline Francis.