On View: April 20 – June 11
Location: 80 Hanson Place, Brooklyn
Curator: Amy Andrieux
Open House Celebration: Thursday, May 25, 2023 | 7-9PM | CLOSED
Dark humor is nothing short of brilliant within African-American culture, whether it be literary works, compelling illustrations, unapologetic stand-up or sketch comedies that propel us forward. These vehicles, often created in direct opposition to the threat of Black life, safety and freedom, are rooted in the social practice of community organizing for the sake of informing the unaware while inciting dialogue, protest, and joy.
We explore these methods by which knowledge is disseminated and calls to action are activated in this interactive survey of Black political commentary through the lens of satirical media from the late 1800s through present day.
As we navigate a landscape of polarizing ideologies in real time and our hearts ache for liberation, we celebrate decades of call and response,, and invite viewers to unpack the hidden meanings laid bare by the ingenuity of our culture bearers. Sometimes it is easier to laugh to keep from crying….
Curated by Amy Andrieux and featuring the works from Emory Douglas, Julian Joseph Kyle, Paul Mooney, Key & Peele, Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks, Donald Glover’s Atlanta, George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum, Whoopi Goldberg’s Direct from Broadway and more.
Excerpt from “Direct from Broadway,” a one-woman show by Whoopi Goldberg, 1985. Courtesy of One Ho II, LLC and Edelstein, Laird & Sobel, LLP.
In this cable special, which aired in 1985 as a television adaptation of Whoopi Goldberg‘s 1984 one-woman Broadway show, Goldberg performs monologues as five different characters, mixing the humorous and the poignant, and at times touching on social issues. Her characters are as follows: Fontaine, a fast-talking junkie — claiming to have a Ph.D. in literature from Columbia University — who discusses his life as a thief, an airplane trip to Amsterdam, and his moving visit to the Anne Frank Museum there; a teenage surfer who — speaking in a variation on a “Valley Girl” drawl — recounts, in a disturbingly offhand manner, a one-night stand and her consequent pregnancy which she attempted to abort herself when she was turned away by both her church and her family; a little black girl so saturated by television images of white beauty that she wishes she were white and wears a shirt on her head which she pretends is her “long, luxurious, blonde hair”; a woman from Kingston, Jamaica, who is hired as a companion by a rich, elderly American — whom she calls the “Old Raisin” — and, though she is revolted at first by his shriveled, toothless appearance and his sexual advances, she surprises herself by growing to care deeply for him; and in the final segment, Goldberg appears as a physically disabled woman who unexpectedly finds love with a man who sees beyond her physical limitations.
“Hallelujah” by Emory Douglas, 1971
Emory Douglas served as the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party from 1967 to 1980. Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Douglas and his family moved to San Francisco for health reasons in 1951. At age 15 Douglas was sent to the Youth Training School, a youth authority detention facility in Ontario, California, where he was introduced to art through classes on basic print and graphic design. After his release in 1960, Douglas would eventually continue his art training at City College of San Francisco by taking courses on commercial design where he gained valuable experience with design techniques, print publication, and art critique.
In early 1967, he became involved with the Black Arts Movement at San Francisco State University as a set designer for the Black Communications Project. Douglas met Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, founders of the Black Panther Party, at a meeting regarding the organization’s security detail for Betty Shabazz’s upcoming visit to San Francisco. After this encounter, Douglas joined the Panthers and began going on police patrols in Oakland where he met many of the community people who would later be the inspiration and subject for his work.
Douglas is most noted for his political drawings and cartoons in the Black Panther Newspaper of Police as Pigs and of a black proletariat armed for self-defense. His provocative style visually articulated the injustices experienced by African Americans living in the inner-city, the growing militancy and organization among urban black youth to resist police violence, and the need for community based social programs. In addition, Douglas’s use of rich colors, dark bold edging, and photos of everyday black people to make collages, created an authentic style that expressed the ideological platform of the Black Panthers and the heightened community consciousness of Black Power as a political concept.
After the Party’s demise in the early 1980s, Douglas worked as the layout artist and graphic designer for the San Francisco-based Sun Reporter Publishing Company for 21 years before retiring in 2005. That same year, a collection of his work was compiled in the edited book, Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas. Douglas continues to dedicate his artwork to social justice and health and has most recently served as Artist in Residence at Elam International School of Fine Arts, in Auckland, New Zealand. Douglas, who lives in San Francisco, continues his work with many community based organizations.
“Image breaking as an act of investigation and reprogramming centers my art practice. I’m always amazed at the amount of information that lies within an image — by the weight these images carry, the vast cache of history they possess, the power they command, and the influence they cast over our society.
My own internalized Black male image anchors my life’s long body of work. Through each piece I am able to recreate and analyze the significance of both the positive and the negative images of Black Americans as a whole, and Black American males in particular.
Each image holds a rich background and history that carry with it huge cultural, political and financial ramifications that allow me to explore issues of race and identity by challenging the stereotypes while also shining a light on the beauty, strength, and perseverance of Blacks in America.” – Julian Joseph Kyle
“How Sad” by Julian Joseph Kyle, 2022; 4x4ft, acrylic paint on canvased wood.
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