The Smart Museum has collaborated with Diasporal Rhythms to host an ARTSmart at the Smart titled “Abstract does not Distract.” This is a collector and artist talk featuring local abstract artists, Pearlie Taylor, G.L. Smothers and Felicia Grant Preston. The collectors include Diasporal Rhythms’ collectors, D.E. Simmons, Gail E. Spann and more. The panel moderator will be Michael Christiano, Deputy Director and Curator of Public Practice at the Smart Museum.
The current exhibition at the Smart is Solidarity & Solitary, which tells the history of art by African-American artists, with a particular emphasis on abstraction from the 1940s to the present. That story is a complicated one, woven from the threads of debates about how to represent blackness, social struggle and change, and global migrations and diasporas.
The Smart Museum exhibition is drawn from the Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida Collection, and explores abstraction, broadly understood, as a meaningful political focus, rather than a stylistic preference. For black artists, abstraction is charged with the refusal of representation that is socially dictated, both by racist stereotypes of the dominant culture, and the pressure from within the black community to create positive imagery. Abstract art as a practice embodies the possibility of individual freedom and autonomy, even within larger social identities.
Solidary & Solitary ties together artists like Norman Lewis and Leonardo Drew in an inter-generational history and presents a story of mutual aid and care, of artistic inspiration—the power for a young artist of seeing another black person as a creative producer. This Art Smart will address the subject from the local view.