Galerie Myrtis AfriCOBRA The Evolution of a Movement September 15 – October 27, 2018 Opening Reception: Saturday, September 15th 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Galerie Myrtis Fine Art, 2224 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland, presents AfriCOBRA: The Evolution of a Movement in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the coalition of black revolutionary artists whose aesthetic emerged from activism and a commitment to rail against racism through positive, powerful and uplifting imagery.
AfriCOBRA (African Commune for Bad Relevant Artists) was inspired by the Black Arts Movement, to expand the canon by creating artwork that speaks to the concerns of black people. In exploring the evolution of their creativity, this exhibition features paintings, photographs, prints, and three-dimensional forms created from 1979 to 2018, by the group’s earliest to its latest members.
Featured Artists (year of membership): Akili Ron Anderson (1979), Kevin Cole (2006), Adger Cowans (1978), Michael D. Harris (1979), Napoleon Jones-Henderson (founding member, 1968), James Phillips (1973), Frank Smith (1973), Nelson Stevens (founding member, 1968), and Renee Stout (2017).
The opening reception will be held on Saturday, September 15th from 5:00 – 7:00 pm. Free and open to the public. The exhibit runs from September 15th through October 17th. Programming includes Tea with Myrtis an art salon with members of AfriCOBRA who will discuss their artistic journey and impact on the black arts movement. Darryl Gorman, Tea with Myrtis Sponsor. Myrtis Bedolla, Curator and Melanee Harvey, Ph.D., Catalogue Essayist. Visit site for details: www.GalerieMyrtis.net
GALERIE MYRTIS 2224 North Charles Street * Baltimore, MD 21218 410.235-3711 * GalerieMyrtis.ne
Birthed during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, AfriCOBRA shaped a radical black aesthetic that asserted black empowerment, self-determination, and unity among African Diasporic people. The artists’ collective was conceived in 1968, on the South Side of Chicago, by founding members, Jeff Donaldson (1932-2004), Wadsworth Jarrell (b. 1929) and Gerald Williams (b. 1941) who formed the nucleus of the group. As socially and politically conscious artists, they sought to counter white supremacist representations with positive black imagery, presented symbolically and rhythmically to uplift the soul of a nation.
Drawing from the tenets of the Black Power Movement, and the philosophical concepts and aesthetic principals of AfriCOBRA—works emerging from the collective captured the ethos of the black community. Through their imagery, rendered in a palette of “Kool-aid” colors, developed a black iconography rooted in African ancestry and black pride; and a lexicon, as in the term “mimesis at midpoint” to describe their artistic approach. These expressions, couched in idioms, such as, “the rich lustre of a just-washed ‘Fro” formed a vernacular that defines nuances of the black experience.
“You can’t see AfriCOBRA unless you’re in the struggle, unless you hear the music, unless you really know.” Jeff Donaldson, Founding Member, 1968
Interview with Paul Richard, “AfriCOBRA: African Art for Africans Only,”
Washington Post (27 Feb 1972)