The Soul of a Nation: Art of Black Power, the art exhibition that is exploring America’s race struggles opened in London on Wednesday, at London’s prestigious Tate modern museum.
The exhibition is focusing on the American Civil Rights movement and the politics of black identity, examining the triumphs and tragedies of the civil rights movement in the United States from the 1960’s to 1980’s.
It is during this period that the identity of black men started to change and attitudes were shifting.
To me, anything I do is always African. I don't break the work up in those other kinds of notions you know... Africa as a place contributed to the history of the world for hundreds of thousands of years.
To set it specifically on a historic background begining 1963 is intentional as the artists are trying to capture the momentous day 300,000 people marched to the Lincoln Memorial to hear Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech.
The exhibition’s featured 168 pieces highlight social movements that fought to put an end to racial discrimination. It is also reminding people about dresses worn back then.
“I have the tweed suit – the piece that I call revolutionary suit. It’s a classic tweed with an A-line skirt so that it allows for the movement of the march. I have bell sleeves that accent have that same kind of silhouette as the skirt and that enables you to arm and we’ve accessorised that tweed suit with a bandolero in Kool-Aid colours”, Jae Jarrel, one of the artists says.
Key black figures are portrayed in some of the artworks, like famous Andy Warhol’s iconic portrait of boxing legend, Muhammad Ali who fought fearlessly against racism and religious intolerance.
“A number of artists were very active radically, politically, certainly the artists behind me, AfroCobra were deeply committed to making sure that the African American communities in which they lived and worked had access to the art and that was paramount to them”, Zoe Whitely, a curator.
Some of the artists featured in this exhibition were not famous but still had an impact on Black history in America. An example is Curtain by Melvin Edwards, a compelling presentation of barbed wires and nooses that vividly reminds the world about slavery, pain inflicted and the fight for freedom.
“To me, anything I do is always African. I don’t break the work up in those other kinds of notions you know… Africa as a place contributed to the history of the world for hundreds of thousands of years”, Melvin Edwards an artist, explaining his works.
The exhibition has attracted painters, sculptors and photographers committed to influencing society. It will run until October 22.