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New exhibits explore African-American identity, black males
Gantt opens three new thought-provoking exhibits Oct. 26
Published Thursday, October 24, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

"Question Bridge: Black Males" is one of three new exhibits opening Oct. 26 at The Gantt Center. A private preview and tour will be held Oct. 25 for a sneak peek at all three exhibits before they open to the public.

What’s it like to be a black male in America? If you ask that question to any number of black men, you’re likely to get a wide range of answers.

At a time when the nation is under the leadership of its first African American president, many black men will tell you they have been able to transcend racial boundaries. Some might even argue we live in a post-racial society, while others say that such a concept is nothing more than an unrealistic illusion. Many black men say they still find themselves confined to the margins of society as many Americans, including blacks, continue to harbor negative perceptions about their ability to function successfully in this country.

In the hopes of debunking stereotypes and instigating an in-depth conversation about the depictions of African-American social status and influence, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture is opening three new exhibits Oct. 26.

“We are proud to have the opportunity to present these three groundbreaking exhibits,” said Gantt Center President and CEO David Taylor. “Each provides a different perspective and necessary insight into the many facets of African-American identity. We will celebrate and reflect on the successes of African-American artists from the 1950s and also confront stereotypes and hopefully bridge the division between people today.”

The exhibits include “Question Bridge: Black Males,” a guided transmedia discussion of perceived obstacles that confront black men, and “African American Art Since 1950: Perspectives form the David C. Driskell Center,” which includes the works of prominent artists such as Romare Bearden and Sam Gilliam. The third exhibit, “New Mythologies: William Villalongo,” is a multimedia exhibition that challenges traditional values and concepts found in Western art and history.

“New Mythologies” explores notions of race, identity and history by confronting the traditional perceptions of male contribution and influence. Villalongo, a Brooklyn-based artist, draws from his passion for dissecting the value placed on traditional Western art and European history to explore notions of the classical female, cultural typecasting and symbolism.

“African American Art Since 1950” couples works by renowned artists from the 1950s with more contemporary visionaries, such as Chakaia Booker, Lorna Simpson and Kara Walker. A collective reflection of the growing prominence and complexity of the field of African-American art over the last 60 years, the exhibit is a constant reminder of America’s preoccupation with race and its role in African-American art.

“Question Bridge” was created by Chris Johnson, Hank Willis Thomas, Bayete Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair. The project, which originated in 1996, began as an effort to utilize new media to incite meaningful discourse regarding San Diego’s African-American community. The project has since expanded to include the unfiltered insights and perspectives of African American men across the nation from varying economic, generational, educational and social divides.

Johnson and Smith will host a candid discussion at The Gantt Center about their exhibit and the black male experience Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.

The Gantt Center is offering a sneak peek at the exhibit before it opens to the public. A private preview and opening reception with Smith, Johnson and Villalongo will be held Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. followed by a dance party at 9 p.m. Cost for non-members is $10. Tickets are available at hbgcfall2013.eventbrite.com. 


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