From September 29, 2019 — January 19, 2020
When the acclaimed touring exhibition Solidary & Solitary reaches the BMA, it will significantly expand to more than 80 paintings, sculptures, and mixed media works and take on a new title, Generations: A History of Black Abstract Art. The exhibition offers a sweeping new perspective on the contributions black artists have made to the evolution of visual art from the 1940s to the present moment. Artists featured include pioneers of postwar abstraction once overlooked by history, such as Norman Lewis, Alma W. Thomas, and Jack Whitten, as well as artists from a younger generation such as Kevin Beasley, Mark Bradford, Martin Puryear, Lorna Simpson, and many others.
From July 14, 2019 — January 5, 2020
Every Day: Selections from the Collection is the BMA’s first reinstallation of its contemporary collection centered on black artistic imagination. Nearly 50 works of painting, sculpture, video, printmaking, and photography from the BMA’s permanent collection, alongside a select group of loans primarily from the celebrated Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida Collection, foreground the critical contributions black artists have made to postwar visual art.
From June 16, 2019 — October 27, 2019
For more than 30 years, New Orleans-natives Keith Calhoun (b. 1955) and Chandra McCormick (b. 1957) have been documenting life in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Known as “The Farm,” the prison was founded on the consolidated land of several cotton and sugarcane plantations. Slavery, The Prison Industrial Complex includes poignant photographs and videos that record the exploitation of men incarcerated in the maximum-security prison farm while also showcasing their humanity and individual narratives. The exhibition sheds light on the cracks within our country’s criminal justice system and restores visibility to a population often forgotten by the public at large. The artists’ intimate understanding of prison culture and the importance of intervention before incarceration has prompted them to advocate on behalf of individuals directly involved with correctional facilities as well as in their own New Orleans community, where they teach photography to at-risk youth.
From September 29, 2019 — January 12, 2020
A pioneer in the history of contemporary American art and sculpture, Melvin Edwards (American, b. 1937) has influenced generations of artistic giants with his innovative formal genius and deep political commitment. This exhibition highlights the African roots of his dynamic, muscular abstraction by placing a small selection of works from the BMA’s world-class collection of African art in dialogue with 16 works that span four decades of Edwards’ career. The artist, who is the great-great-great grandson of a West African blacksmith, has lived, taught, and traveled throughout Africa since the early 1970s, forming relationships with artists, students, and politicians in 16 countries. In doing so, he discovered a relationship between his work and that of African blacksmiths and carvers, past and present.
From June 19, 2019 — October 20, 2019
Projected lights, sounds, and reflective surfaces convey a sense of flowing water in Oletha DeVane’s installation, Traces of the Spirit, presented inside the BMA’s Spring House. The exhibition references the building’s past as a dairy and place where enslaved people were forced to labor and creates an altar-like location for a selection of the artist’s spirit sculptures. For these totem-like objects, DeVane (American, b. 1950) adorns hollow glass vessels with pieces from her collection of found objects such as beads, wood, mirrors, plastic figurines, sequins, fabric, and even bullet casings. These elements are applied in conjunction, at times, with small, expressive clay heads shaped by the artist, giving voice and life to the sculptures. DeVane draws upon spiritual and African diasporic traditions to reference stories, prayers, and myths. Snakes, birds, saints, and mermaids populate the dense surfaces. The resulting works evoke the possibilities of spiritual communication and transformation.