Curated by Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley
A little more than a decade ago, curators began exploring the legacy of the 1960s and ’70s Black Arts Movement in the US; in 2005, “Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary” at London’s Whitechapel Gallery linked contemporaneous African-diasporic connections between the US, the UK, and Jamaica. In 2006, Kellie Jones curated the first of three important exhibitions that unearthed key yet underacknowledged abstract and figurative artists with “Energy/Experimentation: Black Artists and Abstraction, 1964–1980” at New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem. The groundwork laid, “Soul of a Nation” will present more than 150 works by over sixty artists, grappling with the period from 1963 to 1983, during which artists responded to political enfranchisement in the US with bold aesthetic transformation. Archival materials will be showcased alongside paintings, photographs, prints, sculptures, and time-based media, including performance. This exhibition will highlight the radical tactics and growing consciousness of artists during the Black Arts and Black Power Movements, demonstrating how their voices (and those of their progeny) are so much needed today.