Scattered throughout the Dairy Arts Center and venues all over Boulder, dozens of art pieces from Colorado-based African and African American artists are perched on walls and pedestals. All of the works, ranging from mixed-media canvases to stone and bronze sculptures, are part of a series of exhibits celebrating Black History Month.
The exhibition, put on by the NAACP Boulder County and the Executive Committee for African American Cultural Events Boulder County is titled “Black Futures in Art: We’re Not Just History.”
The exhibitions are a part of the organizations’ Black History Month programming, celebrating Black artists and creatives across Boulder and Colorado. All seven exhibits in the series were curated by local abstract artist Adderly Grant-Lord, an expansion of an exhibition she curated last year with NoBo Arts District in an effort to expand the visibility of Black art in Boulder.
“My dream was to do this across Boulder County. I would love to invade the nightclubs, the restaurants, I would love to do a variety of stuff,” said Grant-Lord. “I would love to be able to walk into the museum and it’d be about African American artists, because you don’t see them all day long.”
The exhibits at the Dairy Arts Center and across Boulder feature the work of seven artists including Grant-Lord herself, and the diversity in mediums and perspectives featured is expansive.
Grant-Lord’s paintings are all acrylic on canvas and distinct in their brilliant color and are turbulently abstract. Featured artist Thomas E. Lockhart III works in mixed media including acrylic paint, faux flowers and real chains on canvas.
Two sculptors are also featured – Agnes Nyanhongo and SaToro Tafura – and their works are distinct yet complementary to each other and the other works on display.
Grant-Lord said her creative process is driven by energetic connection, both with her own works of art and the ones she chooses for gallery curation.
“I have a whole kind of emotional energy attached to it,” said Grant-Lord. “You have Helen [Masvikeni-Masango], the photographer, and then you have SaToro’s sculpture, and Agnes’ sculpture, and so on. It’s powerful.”
Lockhart, whose pieces are some of the largest in the collection, has spent many years as an artist exploring different artistic mediums, experimenting with them, and evolving his style in tandem with the new things he learns. He said his desire to explore different facets of artistic expression is driven by a true love and passion for art.
“A lot of [my pieces] look different from each other and some of them have similarities. I’ve been that way for about 20-plus years,” said Lockhart. “And I still haven’t changed. I love art. I love the different complexities and the different types of things that you can do to create it, from abstract realism to contemporary to cubism.”
Grant-Lord attributes some of her drive to create to a longing for a more just world, both for the sake of her young daughter and children like her. She hopes the exhibit encourages the public to have conversations about the everyday challenges of their Black neighbors and peers.
“[I hope it shows] a different perspective on who we are as African Americans, a perspective that I think most of us don’t normally think on a day-to-day basis going about our life,” said Grant-Lord. “There is a community of people here that are feeling ignored.”
The key focus of the exhibit is to highlight the Black experience in America through a different framework than what is typically displayed on the news.
While protests for racial justice have garnered significant attention in recent months and years, people like Yvette Nichols, Grant-Lord’s friend and another coordinator with the NAACP, feel the narrative is often focused away from Black success and joy, which can result in the dehumanizing of Black people.
“[I hope the public] see us as humans, as full human beings and not just Black or African American or whatever the trendy thing to say about this collective of people,” said Rollins. “We are 100% human beings who just want to be seen and want to matter.”
The exhibit will be featured at the Dairy Arts Center through March 4. The full list of exhibit dates and locations can be found here.
Contact CU Independent Arts and Entertainment Editor Lauren Hill at email@example.com.