MARTINA DODD on Black History Month

25 Feb

In 1926, historian Carter G Woodson along with other prominent leaders from the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) sponsored the first Negro History Week. Negro History Week, sought to promote the teachings of Black American legacy and achievement, especially in the nation’s public schools and universities.  This seven day celebration during the second week of February was later officially extended to a month long holiday by President Ford in 1976.

Much has happened in this country since 1926, Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, the first Black President was elected twice and the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened its doors.  As we use this month as an opportunity  to honor the central role of African Americans  within US history, we must also remember to salute those who are now actively creating their own legacy.  We at Morton Fine Art acknowledge and prioritize the advancements made by African Americans within this country, and applaud and thank artists, activists and educators who have made it a goal to do so within their practice.  Artists such as Maya Freelon Asante, Kesha Bruce and Nathaniel Donnett who continually use their artistic medium to preserve and highlight the stories of African Americans.

past_present_tense-webMAYA FREELON ASANTE, Past Tense Present, 2015, 8.5”x18″, tissue ink mono/photo print

Inspired by her discovery of a stack of water-soaked colored paper in her grandmother’s  basement, Freelon Asante’s tissue ink mono photo prints speak to the power of  familial history, connected-ness and renewal.  Bruce,  who also found inspiration from a grandparent’s belongings,  reconceptualizes  the Black American experience in her photo series (Re) Calling  & (Re) Telling,  through  old and damaged negatives  given to her by her grandfather. Bruce’s and Freelon Asante’s use of archival images to explore the connections between personal mythologies and collective memory both help to re-center the black family unit within the American narrative.

that-they-might-be-lovely-webKESHA BRUCE, That They Might Be Lovely, 12″x9″, archival pigment print, edition of 15

Nathaniel Donnett’s work articulates the complex cultural concerns of a “united nation” still divided by racial tension.  In his Small Bag series, Donnett makes reference to the “paper bag test” and its South African equivalent the  “pencil test,” (two tests used to distinguish a person’s racial identity and/or their ability to “pass” as white) while prompting his viewers to take a four question test of their own that relate to acceptable beauty standards, microaggressions and racial biases. By asking his audience to finish statements like;  “Good hair can be A) Kinky B) Straight C) Wavy D) All of the above,” he brings to light America’s  legacy of racism, colorism and its obsession with classification.

smallbag18-cropNATHANIEL DONNETT, Small Bag 18, 10.75″x5″ graphite, charcoal and printed ink on paper
bag

Although Black History Month is quickly coming to a close, we should continue to support these artists as they maintain their dedication in keeping the  stories of our ancestors alive.

-MARTINA DODD for Morton Fine Art, February 2017

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: