The Black experience in America is the subject of the Falmouth Art Center’s current exhibit, “Our Stories,” which is in honor of Black History Month.
Artists Claudia Smith-Jacobs of East Falmouth, Carl Lopes of Mashpee, Joe Diggs of Osterville and Robin Joyce Miller of Marstons Mills have collaborated on the exhibit to show a range of experience, taking the viewer on a journey.
Claudia Smith-Jacobs, who served as curator for the exhibit, explained that the show flows from the Mother Continent, Africa, through the horrendous Middle Passage, when Africans were brought against their will across the ocean, to the struggles and triumphs of life in the United States. The exhibit’s focus and subtext, Ms. Smith-Jacobs said, are “commonalities, common ground, exceptional achievements of which African-Americans and the artists in the show are proud.”
Ms. Smith-Jacobs said, that by using the title “Our Stories,” the artists “are hoping that viewers of the exhibit, no matter who they are, will relate to the images because we are all related in the human family.”
Ms. Smith-Jacobs’s work in the show includes “Remember Our Names” in memory of the many African-American women and men who, over the years, have been the victims of race-based murders. The painting and the pose of the subject were originally inspired by Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman who died in police custody in 2015.
Among the artwork being shown by Ms. Miller are several pieces inspired by the poems of Langston Hughes, the celebrated poet of the Harlem Renaissance. She illustrates the poems “Sun Song,” “The Weary Blues,” “Minstrel Man,” “Dreams” and “Negro.” The piece that illustrates the poem “Negro” was made using collage, and Ms. Miller also made the piece resemble a quilt, a tribute to African-American folk art. The poem begins, “I am a Negro, Black as the night is black, Black like the depths of my Africa.…” Like the entire exhibit, Ms. Miller’s piece takes the viewer on a journey of the African-American experience.
Ms. Miller said, “Color, texture and visual rhythms characterize my unique style of mixed media collage. I use decorative papers, paint and sometimes objects to create my work.”
The works of Joe Diggs in the show capture the triumphs and challenges of African-Americans. From the piece titled “An American Tragedy Memories of James Byrd Jr.,” which was made in 1998, to a recent piece, “Chalk-Lined Baller,” depicting an African-American baseball player, Mr. Diggs captures a range of emotions through large, expressive works.
The colorful work of Carl Lopes, a third generation Cape Verdean, is a respectful nod to centuries of influential African design and tradition. Airbrushed acrylics, holographic papers, glass beads and jewelry are attached to wood panels and coated with high-gloss poly-resin. His paintings appear as if they are stained glass and lit from behind.
The exhibit opens on Friday, February 5, and is on display through March 1 at the Falmouth Art Center.
The center, at 137 Gifford Street, is free and open to the public Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM, Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM, and Sunday from 1 to 4 PM.
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