Tuesday, August 14 – Tuesday, September 11
Monday, Wednesday, & Friday 9:30-4:30
Tuesday & Thursday 9:30-12:30 by Appointment
Free Public Reception Artist / Genealogist Panel Presentation
Thursday, August 16, 6:30-8:30 – Tuesday, September 11, 2012
"I Am America: Black Genealogy Through the Eye of An Artist"
A Fine Arts Exhibit Created/Curated by Kheven LaGrone will be presented
At the City of Oakland
Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts Annex
Tuesday, August 14 through Tuesday, September 11, 2012
I Am America: Black Genealogy Through the Eye of An Artist , a well-received traveling exhibit, began at the San Francisco Main Public Library and was later installed at the privately-owned C. K. Gallery in Oakland. The exhibit will now open at the very public, historical Beaux Arts building of the City of Oakland known as the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. This popular performance center, previously known as the Alice Arts Center, has a dedicated exhibition area referred to as the Annex. The wheelchair-accessible Malonga Casquelourd Center Annex is located at 1428 Alice Street, Oakland, California.
Public viewing is planned for Tuesday, August through Tuesday, September 11, 2012. The public is invited to hear from the participating genealogists and artists during the Malonga Casquelourd Center’s 3rd Thursday Reception, August 16, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
I Am America commemorates the Black citizens and families who contributed to the making of America immediately before, during and after the Civil War. The exhibit also revisits the role of the continual slave revolts in the making of America.
The Civil War was the most significant event and the turning point in American history. Also called the War Between the States, it united the different states into the one nation we now call the United States of America. (Slavery was abolished in Mexico before the United States abolished its slavery; Mexico’s then president, ex-slave Vicente Guerrero, was of African descent.)
However, in his essay titled 1935 “The Propaganda of History,” scholar W. E. B. DuBois argued that post-Civil War American history had been falsified. He wrote that the North was ashamed because they needed the Negro to win the war and “establish a democracy.” The South was ashamed because they lost the war. Historians especially downplayed the significance of slave revolts, particularly the successful Haitian Revolution, in “instigating” both the anti-slavery movement and the Civil War.
According to DuBois, post-Civil War imagery of the Negro were usually created by [white] artists and historians who resented the Negro. Thus, the images and stories were usually demeaning stereotypes and caricatures.
DuBois called such re-writing of history “lies agreed upon.”
Today, family stories and documentation uncovered by African American genealogists refute those lies. For I Am America,a few genealogists provided family stories, black-and-white photographs, marriage certificates, land deeds, census records, military papers, published narratives, etc. Then artists used the documentation to re-imagine their stories and images.
“This exhibit features an American—even world—history and identity I wasn’t taught in school. Thus, I titled the exhibit I Am America,” says curator Kheven LaGrone. “We are the quintessential ‘All-American.’”
“In fact,” adds LaGrone, “I would argue that the Civil War was Frederick Douglass’s slave insurrection.”
The artists participating in I Am America include:
Inez Brown (mixed media); James Gayles (watercolorist); Karen Oyekanmi (doll maker); Makeda Rashidi (painter); Malik Seneferu (painter); Michael Forks (photographer); Morrie Turner (cartoonist); Nate Creekmore (cartoonist); Nicka Smith (mixed media); Orlonda Uffre (painter); Sara Marie Prada (mixed media); TaSin Sabir (mixed media); Tomye' (mixed media)