Three new exhibitions at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture examining African-American social status and influence, opened this week. The exhibitions – Question Bridge, African American Art Since 1950 and New Mythologies
– explore the perceptions of African American identity, specifically the Black Male through various angles and mediums.
Chris Johnson, Hank Willis Thomas, former Charlotte Observer photojournalist Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair.created Question Bridge. The project originated in 1996. It present a series of candid questions to guide a discussion of perceived obstacles confronted by black males in the United States. Black men asked questions of other black men who were different from themselves via video interviews.
“The whole point is to get honest direct, meaningful answers form the black community,” Johnson said in a telephone interview. “We know about our problems. We have passionate answers and relevant answers.”
Johnson said part of the impetus for the project is to allow African-Americans to frame the conversations about themselves. The project gives viewers a layered understanding of black men, he said.
In New Mythologies, artist William Villalongo redefines racial and sexual politics. His works use mythological and religious figures placed in a variety of African-American and American contexts. Villalongo uses mixed media for his works.
“My goal is to orchestrate a conversation between history and art which could give us the progressive discussions of the future,” Villalongo said in a press statement.
African American Art Since 1950: Perspectives from the David C. Driskell Center is an exhibition featuring pieces by artists Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, and Sam Gilliam as well as contemporary artists such as Chakaia Booker, Lorna Simpson, and Kara Walker.