Last Tuesday, March On!, BAMart's spring exhibition organized by Dexter Wimberly, an independent curator, and BAM's Visual Art Curator David Harper, celebrated its opening in the Natman Room off the lobby of BAM's Peter Jay Sharp Building. The art is inspired by the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Many stayed for the full three hours of the opening, where the room was filled with a lively atmosphere and guests enjoyed complimentary beer kindly donated by Brooklyn Brewery. The exhibit features work from nine artists, several of whom were in attendance last night including Delphine Diallo Diaw, Ali Santana, Derrick Adams (recently seen in the BAM Next Wave Festival), and Kimberly Becoat.
Read on for a more detailed historical context of the show by Jessica Bell (BAMart assistant) and a perspective on what to look out for when you visit. We also posted a few photos from the event on Facebook. Check them out here.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was one of the most iconic moments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, and arguably of the visual history of the civil rights movement. In August of 1963, he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech to nearly 200,000 demonstrators, a moment which would be permanently etched in America’s memory and would continue to resonate around the world. Nearly a decade prior to the march, Dr. King met Bayard Rustin, who would not only introduce him to the teachings of Gandhi and the tenets of nonviolent protest, but would eventually strategize, organize, and produce the March on Washington. Though the works of art in March On! are inspired by the sociopolitical, historical, and cultural implications of the civil rights movement and the march in particular, they powerfully and poignantly prompt a reexamination of the ways in which the present dances with the past.
Upon closer investigation, several nuanced dimensions of the show’s subject matter emerge. Don’t miss:
- In Say It Plain, Mickalene Thomas and David Antonio Cruz present a contemporary reimagining of one the most controversial speeches of Brooklyn-born political icon Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American congresswoman and presidential hopeful.
- Kenya (Robinson)’s Guestbook, a participatory installation that invites guests to write inscriptions on a chalkboard, which playfully amplifies the sound of each gesture.
- Simone Leigh’s trance-inducing video, Black American Temporal, featuring a skater in a seemingly deserted court in New York City. As the figure artfully glides across the court, soulful, abstract melodies emanate from a wind instrument. The interplay of imagery and sound is an artistic response to former Black Panther, political activist, and singer Elaine Brown.
March On! will be on display in the Natman Room and open to the public until February 28. The Natman Room is open during regular BAM business hours.