Feature Articles

November 2013

Gantt Center in Charlotte, NC, Offers Three Exhibits Exploring The African-American Identity - The Black Male

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, NC, is presenting three new exhibits including: New Mythologies: William Villalongo, on view through Jan. 20, 2014; Question Bridge: Black Males, created by Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas, Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair, on view through June 1, 2014; and African American Art Since 1950: Perspectives From The David C. Driskell Center African American Art Since 1950, on view through June 1, 2014.

These exhibitions explore the perceptions of African American identity, specifically the Black Male through various angles and mediums.

“We are proud to have the opportunity to present these three groundbreaking exhibits,” said Gantt Center President and CEO David Taylor. “Each provides a different perspective and necessary insight into the many facets of African-American identity. We will celebrate and reflect on the successes of African-American artists from the 1950’s, and also confront stereotypes and hopefully bridge the division between people today.”

Question Bridge: Black Males was created by Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas, Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair. The executive producers are Delroy Lindo, Deborah Willis and Jesse Williams. Originating in 1996, this project sought to utilize new media to incite meaningful discourse regarding San Diego’s African American community. Prior to expanding the project, 10 individuals were asked to candidly express their sentiments on an assortment of topics in front of a video camera. African American Art Since 1950: Perspectives from the David C. Driskell Center, an exhibition in which works by prominent artists are displayed alongside sensational new talents, seeks to bring forth a new insight into the meaning of African-American art as it continues to highlight the social, cultural, and political visions of a growing creative community. New Mythologies: William Villalongo is a multimedia exhibition hoping to challenge traditional values and concepts found in Western art and history.

A series of thought-provoking questions guide a transmedia discussion of perceived obstacles confronted by black males in the United States. The exhibition provides unfiltered insight into the perspectives of African American males across varying geographic, economic, generational, educational, and social divides. With hopes of debunking stereotypes of this demographic, Question Bridge provides exposure to multifaceted depictions of males and provides a non-threatening environment for continued understanding. This exhibition is proudly sponsored by Novant Health, Compass Group and The Knight Foundation.

Perspectives from the David C. Driskell Center, an exhibition in which works by renowned artists such as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, and Sam Gilliam are coupled with exciting new visionaries, including Chakaia Booker, Lorna Simpson, and Kara Walker, collectively reflects the growing prominence-and complexity-of the field of African American art over the last 60 years. All of the artists whose work is featured in this exhibition are a constant reminder that a preoccupation with race in American life often plays a significant role in our understanding the complex patterns we witnessed in African American art.

Through careful exploration of notions such as race, identity and history, William Villalongo, a Brooklyn-based artist, confronts the traditional perceptions of male contribution and influence. His interest in dissecting the value we place on traditional Western art and European history; the classical female; cultural typecasting; and symbolism drives his works as a painter and installation artist.

Founded in 1974, Charlotte’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (formerly the Afro-American Cultural Center) exists to present, preserve and celebrate the art, history and culture of African-Americans and those of African descent through dance, music, visual and literary arts, film, educational programs, theatre productions and community outreach. Named for Harvey B. Gantt, the prominent Charlotte architect and community leader and former Mayor of Charlotte, the Center is housed in an inspired and distinguished award-winning structure and is home to the nationally celebrated John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American art.

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (CCBCC) is the nation’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler. Headquartered in Charlotte, the company’s nearly 7,000 employees make, sell and deliver Coca-Cola products in franchise sales territories across the Southeast.

Compass Group North America is a division of Compass Group PLC, listed on the London Stock Exchange. Compass Group is the world’s leading food management and support services company. The Group operates in over 50 countries, with leading market positions in the UK, Continental Europe, Australia and the US, combined with business in developing markets in Eastern Europe, South America and Asia. Compass Group employs over 500,000 associates worldwide. The Group had revenues of £16.9 billion in the year ending September 30, 2012.

Novant Health is a four-state integrated network of physician practices, outpatient centers and hospitals that deliver a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to our communities. The Novant Health network consists of more than 1,100 physicians and 24,000 employees who make healthcare remarkable at more than 450 locations including 14 medical centers, three hospitals, and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, NC, Novant Health is committed to making healthcare remarkable for our patients and our communities serving over four million patients annually. In 2012, Novant Health provided more than $545 million in community benefit including charity care and services. Novant Health is one of the top 25 integrated health systems in the United States and was named a top 50 Best Places for Diverse & Women Managers to Work by Diversity MBA Magazine.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Center at 704/547-3700 or visit (www.ganttcenter.org).

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