In collaboration with guest-curator Tammi Jo Wilson, The Arts Center presents BLACK MATTER. This exhibit showcases contemporary black Oregon artists in an effort to address an imbalance in representation.
Their voices should be heard, not because they are black, but because they are talented artists with unique life experiences. It is essential to lift up the contributions of black artists above systematic oppression in life and in art. Black artists should be recognized as individuals, without the filter of what the Western art canon tells us black art is or should be.
~ Tammi Jo Wilson
The artists in this exhibition are all important black and African artists living and working here in Oregon. The goal of the exhibition is to broaden cultural awareness of and appreciation for art by black artists in Oregon. This exhibit offers black artists the opportunity to share artwork that expresses what’s in their hearts and minds without the requirement of a political agenda. Black artists are continuously expected to make art about race, racism, and social injustice. The artwork in this exhibition expresses more than their experience of living in a state and country rooted in systematic racism; their work speaks to the experience of being human.
It’s almost as if, in order to be a successful black artist, they must perpetually create art that speaks on black culture and racism. It’s not important for an artist’s race to be apparent just by looking at their work but, knowing that there are an increasing number of black artists being featured in museums and galleries is important. True progress will be achieved when work by black artists are collected based on the same criteria as their mainstream white counterparts instead of being judged as having an inherent racial bias. It is up to modern day art collectors, curators, and art historians to change the perspective.
~ Tania Inniss