A museum’s mission is to open the world to its visitors. Sometimes that means covering distances of thousands of miles. It can also mean overcoming expanses of exposure and experience.
“Collective Arising: The Insistence of Black Bay Area Artists,” which opens Saturday at the Museum of Sonoma County in downtown Santa Rosa, offers world vistas not often seen in Sonoma County.
“One of the great things about entering the museum gallery is that people have made the decision to go through a portal to be enlightened,” said the exhibition’s guest co-curator, Ashara Ekundayo.
Curated by Ekundayo and Lucia Olubunmi R. Momoh, the exhibition features works by 11 interdisciplinary and multigenerational artists, all of which have belonged to black, femme and queer artist collectives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“I think it’s important for the museum to provide a platform to share the work and history of black artist collectives who have worked for decades trying to tackle racial inequality and social inequality,” said Jeff Nathanson, executive director of the Museum. of Sonoma County.
The idea for the current exhibit came from George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in 2020 and the protests that ensued, Nathanson said. He tries to promote understanding of racial and social issues.
“I talked to Lucia, who was on our exhibition committee, about creating an exhibition, and two years later, here we are,” he said. “I think the museum has an important responsibility, especially since we are a museum of both art and history”.
Guest curators, invited by the museum for their experience and involvement with East Bay artist collectives, hope to present work to Sonoma County that has never been seen here before.
“This exhibit was specially organized for this audience in Sonoma County and we hope to excite all of our artists to come to this area in the future,” Ekundayo said.
Its co-curator Momoh added, “It will be interesting to highlight a link between Sonoma County and the East Bay black community.”
The collective movement of black artists dates back to the 1960s and 1970s. Collectives represented in this exhibition include nure, collective 3.9, House of Malico, collective CTRL + SHIFT and the newly formed Black collective. [Space] Residence.
“There is something powerful for blacks to come together and work collectively because it was something they denied us during the slavery era,” Momoh said.
Participating artists include Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, Sydney Cain (also known as sage stargate), Erica Deeman, Cheryl Derricotte, Sasha Kelley, shah noor hussein, Ramekon O’Arwisters, Yétúndé Olagbaju, Karen Seneferu, Muzae Sesay and Adrian Octavius Walker.
“I’m an artist outside of Oakland and have worked with many of the artists on this show,” said Branfman-Verissimo. “It not only shows the artists independently, but also the work of collectives that are artistically intertwined in the Bay Area. For black artists to survive, we need to work together. “
For this exhibition, Branfman-Verissimo is painting an on-site mural on the building’s roll-up doors that can be seen both inside and outside the museum.
“I’m interested in the ways the audience can interact with the show,” said the artist. “People who are walking can be part of it.”
You can contact Staff Writer Dan Taylor at [email protected] or 707-521-5243. On Twitter @danarts.