Writer: Mark Edwards

 

Art is one of the best ways to truly understand a culture. 

Art incites necessary conversation, spurs change, and encourages its viewers to think beyond the surface. 

But above all else, art tells a story. 

With that in mind, here are three of the most powerful summer art exhibitions happening around the country and running through September.

Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite

56 years ago, a group of black women modeled in a fashion show with their natural hair, a concept rarely accepted, even today. 

The fashion show, held in the winter of 1962 in the basement of the Harlem Purple Manor, a New York City night club, would ultimately mark the start of the ‘Black is Beautiful’ movement.

Kwame Braithwaite, one of the young people behind the movement, was born and raised in New York City. Braithwaite studied the writings of activist, Marcus Garvey, and used his photography to express his political views, as well as bring about social change.

Braithwaite’s photography challenged beauty standards that at the time isolated women of color and cemented his status as a key figure of the second Harlem Renaissance.

‘Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite’ is currently being showcased at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. 

Visit their website to learn more about the artist and how you can purchase tickets. 

Figures of Speech

Virgil Abloh, who is known in the streetwear community for the success of his abstract clothing brand, “Off-White”, and his current role as Artistic Director for the luxury brand, Louis Vuitton, has been changing how the world looks at designers of color.

Today, streetwear enthusiasts and art aficionados alike have insight into the mind of Virgil Abloh via the Griffin Galleries of Art, located in Chicago.

“Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech” features an immersive experience designed by Samir Bantal, and details key moments in Abloh’s career, and highlights his diverse interests in fashion, architecture, music, and design.  

The exhibition is organized by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, with curatorial assistance from Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol, Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow. 

To learn more about the exhibition, as well as how you can purchase tickets, you can visit the website today. 

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983

The Broad in Los Angeles is hosting ‘Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983’ through the end of July.

‘Soul of a Nation’ celebrates two decades of black art; the exhibition begins in 1963 at the pinnacle of the Civil Rights movement. The exhibit features over 60 artists including Romare Bearden, Barkley Hendricks, Noah Purifoy, Martin Puryear, and Faith Ringgold.

There are also free gallery talks featuring working artists from the 60’s to the 80’s and upcoming LA artists every Thursday until the end of July. 

These talks will also feature LA artist Hasani Simons. Simons grew up in South Central Los Angeles and is well informed on topics such as education, housing, welfare, and other social services. His art and music reflect his own life experiences and seeks to improve the lives of others. 

Simons is just one of many talented artists being featured at the Broad Museum

General admission tickets are $18 and can be purchased on the Broad’s website.