Madi Comfort - Poor Butterfly, 1997 - Acrylic on canvas - Courtesy of George Parkington and Paula Kelly

Los Angeles, CA -  “Inside My Head: Intuitive Artists of African Descent,” an exhibition at the California African American Museum (CAAM), showcases the work of 32 artists, many of them local, who have developed a mature style mostly on their own.   Opened Thursday, May 7, this colorful and engaging exhibition will run through Monday, September 27, 2009. While a number of artists in the show are self-taught, others with formal training have deviated from it to evolve towards a very personal vision, often ignoring the mainstream art world.  In addition to its permanent collection, CAAM hosts specially mounted exhibitions curated through loans and its own collection, and tours CAAM exhibitions throughout California and the nation.

Cola Smith - Earth Mother 2007, Acrylic on Masonite Courtesy of the artist.According to CAAM curator Mar Hollingsworth, who assembled the exhibition, what seems to unite all these creators is their search for an unadulterated truth, a sense of authenticity that often manifests in representational artwork that celebrates their Black heritage and their physical, spiritual and cultural environment.   Some of the artists presented here work with media that has been widely recognized as belonging to the “fine arts” realm, while others create pieces that have been only marginally considered as such.

“One of the main purposes of this exhibition is precisely to erase such boundaries,” she explains. “Whether the creator makes a sculpture out of marble or a quilted dress with fabric remnants, the final product stands on its own in terms of quality of execution, design and composition. The exhibition will prove that artistic expression can be manifested in many forms and through many techniques, independently of schooling, and that the transition between art and craft may be seamless.”

The exhibition, she explains, tries to shed some light on the many ways creativity and artistic expression can flourish, as well as to validate a body of work that may not be sanctioned by the “cutting-edge” establishment. “In many ways,” she adds, “African American artists have been outsiders for centuries-- they were excluded from the mainstream galleries and museums, since their sense of creativity and subject matter were often distinctively unique and deeply rooted in cultural traditions.”

Aydee Rodriguez Pilando Arroz 2008 - Oil on Canvas Courtesy of the artistThe exhibition is divided into areas that follow specific themes: Dreams, Visions and Recollection, Fantastic Creatures, Pride and Recognition, Spirituality and the Divine, and The Power of Transformation. Included are paintings, sculptures, collages, assemblages, photographs, videos, dolls, garments and jewelry.   Thirty-two contemporary artists are represented in the show. They are: Jaami Abdul-Khaliq Abdul-Samad, Donna Angers, Floyd Bell, Patricia Boyd, Angela Briggs, Tracy Brown, Yrneh Brown, Ron Carrington, Chukes, Cola, Madi Comfort, Charles Dickson, Graham Goddard, Deidre Greene, Mamie Hansberry, Stephen Hardy, Sy Hearn, Elton Henderson, Ronald Jackson, Michael Massenburg, Bridgitte Montgomery, Dominique Moody, Anne Myatt, Elliott Pinkney, Noah Purifoy, Aydeé Rodríguez, Toni Scott, Karen Seneferu, Malik Seneferu, Dorothy Taylor, Teresa Tolliver and Timothy Washington.

The California African American Museum (CAAM) researches, collects, preserves and interprets for public enrichment the history, art and culture of African Americans. Chartered by the California State Legislature in 1977, CAAM is a state supported institution and a partner with the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum.  Located at 600 State Drive in Exposition Park, the museum is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am -   5:00 pm, and Sundays, 11am - 5pm. Parking in the adjacent lot is $8.00 all day. Enter the lot from Figueroa and 39th Streets. Admission and workshop participation is always free. A series of programs have been organized, providing the opportunity to create one’s own art with the tutelage of some of the featured artists.   To reserve space or for more information about a program, call 213.744.2024 or visit the Web site at :  www.caamuseum.org.

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Pause For Thought

Moore on Paintings

"The many great paintings of the world, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of art. If you don't want the pleasure of art, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don't have a soul."