Celebrating Black Artists at the Museum and around Columbus

Artist WYZE admires her work in the HOME Gallery at CMA, photo courtesy of the artist

Black History, Lives, and Art Matter all year long. At CMA, we are lucky to steward artworks by incredible African American artists, and to live in a city with remarkable Black creatives. Since tomorrow’s history is today’s culture, we’d like to share some contemporary Black art and creativity – in our collection and in our backyard – that is inspiring us right now.

No list, and no month, could possibly encompass a fraction of Black art and creativity, so look for us to share Black art twelve months a year.

New to CMA

Dawoud Bey: This summer, CMA acquired a work from Dawoud Bey’s series, Night Coming Tenderly, Black. This contemplative project consists of large black and white landscapes, captured near dawn or dusk, made around Cleveland and Hudson, Ohio, the final stops along the Underground Railroad – the path that enslaved people took to secure their freedom. Read more about Bey’s project in his own words here.

Cameron Granger’s This Must Be The Place is an artistic meditation on the concept of ‘grace,’ inspired by the eulogy delivered by Barack Obama following the 2015 racist murder at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Experience the work, now part of CMA’s collection. Watch Granger in conversation with celebrated poet, essayist, and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib, in this conversation on art, grace, and more.

Deana Lawson is a celebrated contemporary artist known for her diverse photographic representations of Black life. CMA’s new exhibition, Photography in Context: Two Works by Deana Lawson, is on view now.

Lula Mae Blocton’s Summer Ease, featured in the award-winning Art After Stonewall: 1969-1989, and newly acquired, is a bright, abstract painting whose warm glow Blocton attributes to her sense of joy at coming out and connecting to a community of women.

WYZE: You may have seen works by the Columbus-based photographer WYZE in CMA’s Home installation in the Big Idea Gallery. Stay tuned for a fresh new series in which she has documented life during the pandemic.

Right Now Around Town

Deliver Black Dreams, conceived by Marshall Shorts and spearheaded by Maroon Arts Group, is a collaborative new initiative to spotlight and incubate several different projects created by Columbus-area Black creatives. Watch their inspiring video here, and stay up-to-date by following #deliverblackdreamscbus #deliverblackdreams on social media.

April Sunami: You’ve probably seen Sunami’s murals around town, or in CMA and OAAE’s Art in the House studio workshop series. Now the national clothing label Lane Bryant has selected her art for a tee shirt. The “April Sunami Affirmations Artist Tee” illustration. See more of her work here.

Streetlight Guild is a multi-disciplinary center for creating and preserving original art, with an emphasis on Columbus-based artists underrepresented elsewhere. Learn more about them and check out their preserved performances and writings at their website. Meet SLG artists each month at CMA’s free, virtual Creative Happy Hour and Creative Mindfulness programs.

Urban Strings & Dr. Mark Lomax, II: Dr. Lomax is a critically acclaimed composer, recording artist, drummer, activist, and educator. His magnus opus, 400: An Afrikan Epic, consists of a 12-album cycle, a curriculum, and a documentary that ambitiously tells the story of the Afrikan diaspora. Urban Strings Columbus performs classical music incorporating jazz, gospel, hip-hop, pop and R&B, preserving and showcasing the music of traditional and contemporary African-American composers and arrangers. Stay tuned for information about a collaboration between these amazing artists later this year, in conjunction with Raggin’ On: The Art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson’s House and Journals.

Zora’s House launched in 2018 as a physical space for BIPOC women, especially creative entrepreneurs. Since then, they’ve been incubating, showcasing, and supporting women of color. In a major move, over the course of just five months last year they were able to secure the funds to hire their founder, LC Johnson, to serve as full-time CEO. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

We know this list doesn’t begin to scratch the surface, but we hope it’ll help you connect to an artist or opportunity you may not have known about before.