Friday, January 11, 2019

THE NOTION OF FAMILY AT THE CALIFORNIA AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM

GORDON PARKS
ONDRIA TANNER & HER GRANDMOTHER
WINDOW SHOPPING, MOBILE, ALABAMA 1956


Here's how this week's arts and culture column begins:

What with the recent Nativity of Christ, the feast of the Holy Family, and the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, “The Notion of Family” at the California African American Museum (CAAM) seems especially timely.

The exhibit comprises artworks from the 19th through the 21st centuries and runs through March 3.

If you haven’t visited CAAM, you really should. (Its Jan. 21 Martin Luther King Jr. festivities would be a good place to start). CAAM is down in Exposition Park, a neighbor of the Museum of Natural History and the California Science Center.

The building is sharp-looking, expansive, and smart (as is its website). The exhibits, this one overseen by Vida L. Brown, visual arts curator and program manager, are beautifully designed to intrigue without overwhelming.

Though this is the smallest of those currently on view, to me it packs the most intense punch.

Paintings, prints, photographs, assemblages, and sculptures chart “a trajectory of African American family and togetherness over generations.” The impression is of a culture formed around steadfast endurance, community, storytelling, music, and food.

A palpable rootedness to heart and earth. A slow-burning ember of tears and of rage. The lash marks of generational trauma, and a majestic, near-explosive refusal to be overcome by it.

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

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