September 30, 2023


Make Some Fun

Juxtapoz Journal – Aaron Douglas @ SCAD MOA: The Harlem Renaissance Reimagined

2 min read

Though the Harlem Renaissance was a profound second, a interval of historical past that marked the outstanding cross-section of so many artists and thinkers of Black America in a specific north Manhattan neighborhood, it’s additionally a motion that’s timeless. There was nobody style, however an amalgamation of consciousness and experimentation that extends to the dynamism we see a century later. Aaron Douglas, the topic of Sermons, an exhibition on view now on the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, was a painter, illustrator, muralist, author, and trainer. He was the form of artist who expressed himself in craft, collaboration, and dialog; the conduit on the middle of this exhibition that unites modern dialogue with the Renaissance itself.

“I feel Sermons is de facto attempting to get the scholars to see how expansive that point could be,” explains curator DJ Hellerman, “however then additionally attempting to make use of modern artists to push again on a slender studying of that historical past. The Harlem Renaissance that I discovered about at school was a lot narrower, a way more particular form of Harlem Renaissance than the Harlem Renaissance I uncovered whereas doing analysis for the present; whether or not it is queerness, how diasporic it’s, however then additionally how geographically expansive it was by way of the USA.”

Showcasing Kara Walker, Diedrick Brackens, and Khari Johnson Ricks, amongst others, Sermons was organized as a wide-ranging dialog, and because the museum put it, the “constellation of connection” that’s uncovered when surveying such an influential period in American historical past. What SCAD MOA achieved, and what resonates, is that artwork is alive, a narrative to be revisited and reimagined. “The present is supposed to imitate the method of researching in numerous methods,” Hellerman mentioned, “the place you bump into one thing, and also you rethink one thing, and also you rethink it. I feel a present like this makes extra room for different folks. I feel it is a strategy to be expansive. It is a strategy to be beneficiant, and it is a strategy to be extra open. So I feel you’ll be able to see virtually each paintings from each vantage level within the present. And that was actually intentional to create that form of openness versus extra of a linear.” Via an often-overlooked grasp like Douglas, the exhibition exhibits how historical past pulsates via the a long time and could be revitalized via modern dialogue. A sermon for the ages. —Evan Pricco

Aaron Douglas: Sermons is on view at SCAD MOA via January 23, 2023 // This text was initially revealed in our Winter 2023 Quarterly

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