Visual language, an experiential form and a revelation. When art successfully combines all of three of these characteristics, it speaks to and moves those who encounter it. The artist collective AFRICOBRA exemplifies these traits while defining for themselves how they want their art to function in the world.
Founded in 1968, by Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu and Gerald Williams, AFRICOBRA, which stands for the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists, created images that defined the visual aesthetic of the Black Arts Movement. The founders, like many artists of the 1960s and 1970s, understood that their artistic voices could contribute to the liberation and continue unifying the Black community as a whole.
On the occasion of the collective’s 50th anniversary, AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People brings together the founding artists with five early members: Sherman Beck, Napoleon Jones-Henderson, Omar Lama, Carolyn Lawrence and Nelson Stevens to look back at their early contributions to the shaping of AFRICOBRA while presenting the artists’ current works of art. The artists presented this as a unit in the exhibition Ten in Search of a Nation organized by the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Curated by Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D.
Carolyn Mims Lawrence