Exhibit Eyes Black as the New Black

Posted December 9, 2009 at 2:16pm

A new exhibit allows visitors to experience black like never before. The District of Columbia Arts Center and Black Artists of DC present a riveting exhibition, “Black,— that explores the depth of African-American culture and the artistic use of the color black.

Amber Robles-Gordon, the curator for the exhibition, said, “We wanted to expand the notion of black— beyond its negative stereotypes. She said African-Americans, who are often referred to as being black, find it hard to escape the term’s link to evil, ambiguity and death.

But “Black— shows a different side.

For example, “Ancestry 7,— a work by Anne Bouie, represents an “ancestral guardian— that protected the African-American spirit, Bouie said, and provided a source of resilience and hope. The mixed-media work is a composition made up of a West African ceremonial artifact, oxidized bottle caps, a broken lock and replicas of Uncle Tom and Aunt Jemima affixed to a horse bridle.

The narrative of “Ancestry 7— takes visitors through the positive side of African-American hardships and the ways that people used spiritual empowerment to “transcend their circumstances,— Bouie said. “It acknowledges the spiritual and ancestral sources of strength … that were outside the control of those who thought that control of the body equaled control of the mind.—

According to Bouie, the horse’s bridle “represents the hard work that African-Americans did.— The smiling Uncle Tom and Aunt Jemima depict a deeper sense of hope and joy “that had nothing to do with serving dinner and taking hats and coats,— Bouie said.

Another captivating work is “David With the Head of Goliath.— The charcoal drawing illustrates a story of victory. According to artist Arcmanoro Niles, the piece showcases the struggle between good and evil. In the biblical story of David and Goliath, young David — a representative of good and future king of Israel — kills a Philistine warrior and representative of evil named Goliath with a staff and sling.

“Everybody has a David and Goliath,— Niles said. “David always wins.—

There are 37 other works on display at the center (2438 18th St. NW), ranging from sculptures, collages, photography and digital pigment print media. The exhibit will run through Jan. 10.