Everything was changing and the ’60s were just turbulent.
It’s the way of the artist to survive. The artist is the one who changes the society, I think Soul of a Nation traces the work of over 60 Black artists working in the United States during one of the most revolutionary periods politically, aesthetically, socially in American history.
The exhibition starts in 1963 with the March on Washington. The exhibition really follows the aftermath and the fallout of some of the dashed hopes of the Civil Rights Movement. The Black Panther and Black Arts Movement and the Black Power Movement, we were all influenced that came out of that same period.
We were anti-establishment.
We wanted our own images of empowerment. It set a mark that yes, yes, Black Power. We do have this power and to define that in this system is a great thing. We were interested in exploring how we could develop this, what I call, Black aesthetic. We needed to define ourselves in our own terms, which had to do with cultural identity and spiritualism and trying to fulfill those needs in the Black people.
This is a good opportunity for people to see the breadth of work that was being done during that time. To see that it was both abstract as well as figurative and that there was strength in both. These artists worked across painting, sculpture, assemblage, printmaking, photography, performance, and so much more. It was a time for their own cultural and spiritual exploration. I think it’s a fitting venue because of the dynamic of Brooklyn and the diversity of Brooklyn. This kind of show gives me courage too.
You know, even though I lived through that 60’s period, that I know folks are out there and they are working. We’re not going to stop. As an artist, I think that a lot of the exploration is just getting with your own survival.
These artists, they’re carrying the canon of the art forward. That’s what’s important for me about this show.