MFA Exhibition: Black Stories, Black Futures | Arts and lifestyle


Our student body is one of the most diverse in Boston and that number is growing every year.

This week I wanted to focus on more diverse art exhibitions in Boston that I feel our student body would like to see.

It has been argued that museums have been dominated by white people for years, and only recently have different communities finally refused to remain silent and share their voices, their art and their history.

That’s why a group of young Boston academics decided to organize an exhibition showcasing the work of 20th century color artists. This opportunity arose out of the museum’s partnership with local youth organizations focused on empowering adolescents such as Becoming a Man, BASE, and the Bloomberg Arts Internship Boston program (1).

Spanning the entrances of Huntington Avenue and Fenway, this exhibit sparks exploration and redesign while celebrating black stories, experiences and self-representations (1).

Well-known artists include Gordon Parks, Dawoud Bey, Archibald Motley, Norman Lewis, and James Van Der Zee. However, one important thing this exhibit does is to integrate and draw attention to future Boston artists such as SMFA graduate Lois Mailou Jones and South End resident Allan Rohan Crite (1). I liked the integration of these little artists because it provides them with the platform they deserve to have their art recognized and allows people like me to find new artists to follow and support.

The exhibition is divided into four sections: “’Ubuntu: I am because you are’ presents images of community life and leisure activities; “Welcome to the City” focuses on paintings of urban scenes in both figurative and abstract styles; and, with photographs and works on paper depicting intimate moments in everyday life, ‘Normality Facing Adversity’ and ‘Smile in the Dark’ both consider the radicalism of just being yourself ”(1).

There are many pieces to see in this exhibit, one being an attractive welcome piece called “Monumental Head” created by John Wilson in 2003.

The “Normality Facing Adversity” section expresses what is considered to be the normality of the difficulties that the black community faces every day. He also takes note of the misrepresentation of black life in the arts.

One play depicts a scene of boys performing, although they carry the weight of their difficulties internally. In juxtaposition, there is the normality that is experienced.

This section then shines a light on musicians like Duke Ellington who have used music to bring joy into their lives despite what they may have faced.

This idea of ​​finding happiness in what they could is also described in “Smile in the Dark”. This section wants to create hope for the community. The plaque reading “‘Smile in the Dark’ gives viewers like you a little glimpse of what it was like to be shamelessly happy, at a time when it was hard to even let out a smirk.”

Going through the rest of the sections, you get more and more into each artist and, also, into their past and future. The intentions of each work of art are for the viewer to explore on their own and take what they want.

These stories and voices have been silenced for years, and it should have happened sooner. And whether it is something that you may or may not personally identify with, this exhibit is truly inspiring and absolutely must be recognized for its talent and importance.

I highly recommend that you visit the MFA yourself, as UMass Boston students are on their list of partner colleges for entry.


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