“Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties”

Activism and artistic practice intersect in Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, a presentation of 103 works by 66 artists that is among the few exhibitions to explore how painting, sculpture, graphics, and photography not only responded to the political and social turmoil of the era but also helped to influence its direction.


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Ademola Olugebefola’s woodcut still lifes of African sculptures; in a 1964 Romare Bearden collage of masks

Debuting at the Brooklyn Museum, where it will be on view from March 7 through July 6, 2014, the touring exhibition marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the events leading to this historic moment, and the aftermath of the legislation.

During the dramatic and often violent social and cultural upheaval of the 1960s, many artists—working in all media and representing all races and ethnicities—aligned themselves with the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement to address the issues of the time in their art and, often, to participate in acts of protest. From this crucible emerged powerful works that were dramatically wide-ranging in aesthetic approach, encompassing abstraction, assemblage, figural work, Minimalism, Pop art, and photography. The exhibition will explore how these works distilled ideas and actions into forceful emblems of identity and liberation. Creating works informed by the experience of inequality, conflict, and empowerment, the artists tested the political viability of their styles and originated subjects attentive to resistance, self-definition, and blackness.

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Dr. Ademola Olugebefola was also mentioned in a NY Times article titled "Battle lines for change"