This past weekend, ArtsWave, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the City of Cincinnati joined forces to host a showcase of multi-disciplinary art from local Black and Brown creatives.
The showcase included a visual art exhibition, film shorts and live performances from 27 local artists who received funding from ArtsWave’s inaugural round of Black & Brown Artist Grants.
Five artists are featured in the visual art exhibit, which continues at the Freedom Center through October:
- Brent Billingsley’s “Painted Pieces of TRUTH and Spoken Words of RECONCILIATION,” fine art and spoken word poetry; the American flag serves as the theme that unites iconic Americans from different cultural backgrounds.
- Gee Horton with Phyllis Jeffers-Coly and LaDe Richardson’s “The Baobab Project,” drawings from traditional African rites of passage and personal portraits explores ways in which Black men come of age.
- Rebecca Nava Soto’s “The Edge Project,” combination of paintings, digital projection, and writing that creates a visual continuum grounded in indigenous aesthetics and extends into contemporary Latinx culture.
- Tyra Patterson’s “Time Saved vs. Time Served,” painted portraits of incarcerated women in prison uniforms reveals dehumanizing and brutal restrictions.
- Michael Coppage’s “Black Box,” portraits encouraging viewers to gain an awareness of the ways in which they use and consume colors and to develop an understanding of the hidden and loaded meanings attached to them.
This partnership to support and elevate local Black and Brown artists has been in the works for several years. After 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic and stark displays of systemic racism, racial injustice and inequities that confront Black and Brown individuals, it was decided that the first year of projects should reflect a variety of artistic disciplines and approaches to the complexities of “truth” and “reconciliation.”
“Art has the power to transform, to uplift and empower, to inspire and ignite,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president & COO of the Freedom Center. “Art can create room for dialogue, where two people can have a conversation through or in front of a piece of art, unafraid of the reflection we may see in the piece. We are honored to partner with ArtsWave and these talented artists from across Greater Cincinnati. Together, we hope we can heal as we move ever closer to an equal and equitable future.”
The performance components of the showcase will repeat Sept. 18-19, at the Freedom Center and Memorial Hall.