| Contributing Writer
Four artists with multi-ethnic backgrounds will discuss their families, artistic styles and viewpoints Monday as part of Falmouth Art Center’s online panel discussion to mark Black History Month.
Artists Joe Diggs, Carl Lopes, Robin Joyce Miller and Claudia Smith-Jacobs will participate in the public Zoom event, covering those topics through the lens of African American history and traditions, according to center executive director Laura Reckford.
The 4 p.m. event is one of the center’s second-Monday Virtual Art Receptions and coincides with a display through March 1 of the four artists’ work in the related exhibit “Our Stories.”
The exhibit, curated by center teacher Smith-Jacobs, frames themes of “politics, history and personal family stories,” Reckford says, and will feature subjects that “people have in common, during a divided time.” The concept for “Our Stories” grew out of ideas discussed last season in meetings of the center’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
The exhibit, Reckford says, follows a timeline that “depicts the struggles and triumphs of African Americans.”
In her description of the show, Smith-Jacobs writes that “the exhibition flows from the Mother Continent, Africa, through the Middle Passage, to the struggles and triumphs of life in the U.S. Its focus and subtexts are: commonalities, common ground, exceptional achievements of which we are proud. The underlying concept is: We are all related in the human family.”
Several works portray subjects that may strike a common note between artist and viewer, such as a family member’s military service or the universal American pastime of baseball — while at the same time celebrating each artist’s distinctive styles.
Diggs, who has traveled worldwide and descends from a military family, describes his style as “hovering between action painting, graffiti and realism.” His abstract technique often makes use of angular and geometric shapes. Of the portrait of his serviceman father shown in the exhibit, Diggs says that “the many facets of his (father’s) personality are framed in each of the segments within the piece.”
Diggs’ uncle Mitch was a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. “I’ve been blessed to have a rich historical family story. … The art I make is about my life’s journey.”
Smith-Jacobs studied in France and England as well as the United States, including art studies in Boston and on Cape Cod, and did a Peace Corps stint in Brazil. Her own heritage includes a Haitian immigrant father who became a scientist at the Draper lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge; an uncle who played minor league baseball in the 1950s; and three uncles who served during WWII in the South Pacific and Europe.
Among her paintings in the show are “My Uncle Played Baseball,” and the stark portrait “Remember Our Names,” which honors victims of the multiple race-based murders that have impacted African American communities over many years.
At a 2020 Cape Symphony concert that featured African composers and music, there were two paintings displayed on stage — luminous artworks that appeared to be made of stained glass, glowing as if lit from behind. They were created by Cape Verdean-American artist Lopes, who’s retired as head of the art department at Barnstable High School.
The intricate designs and colors of Lopes’ paintings pay homage to what he calls “centuries of African design and tradition.” Paintings such as his “Warrior 2,” created from embossed, metalized papers, glass beads and other materials, reflect, he says, “ancestral heritages and cultures” while exuding “a direct contemporary vibe.”
Miller, who lives in New York City and on Cape Cod, has worked as author, poet, artist and teacher in a more than 30-year career that includes teaching art workshops at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Several aspects of her career came together in her art series based on poems written by the famed African American poet Langston Hughes. Miller’s mixed-media collage “The Plantation Quilt and the Tribe” was inspired by his poem “Negro,” which visualizes a person of color in multiple ways, as “slave … worker … singer … victim”; and “Black like the depths of my Africa.”
Miller will also lead the first meeting of the art center’s new book group, which will discuss Hughes’ autobiography, “The Big Sea,” at 4 p.m. Feb. 18 on Zoom. To sign up, email email@example.com.
If you watch
What: Virtual Art Receptions
Presented by: Falmouth Art Center
When: 4 p.m. Monday for a panel discussion to mark Black History Month; same time
Where: Via Zoom teleconference
Admission: $12, $10 for members
Credit: Source link