Tuesday, 16 August 2016


Visual Voice is a must-see exhibition at the Riverside Art Museum (RAM) in California.

Covering Southern California Black artists’ ascent to the mainstream, the show is co-­curated by acclaimed Jamaican-born artist Bernard Stanley Hoyes and American visual artist and entrepreneur Charles Bibbs, with the assistance of Lisa Henry.

Visual Voice’s starting point is the Black art scene in LA of the 1980s and 1990s, and the show comprises two segments: “Influential Masters” and “Independent Trendsetters”.

According to the curators, the exhibition aims to shed light on the continuity from Masters to Trendsetters as they “set a national trend towards self-validation and reshaped how artists worked, exhibited, traded, and collaborated”.

Woman in the Field by Samella Lewis,
one of the 19 artists featured.
“Working as an independent visual artist, I saw this exhibition as an opportunity to tell the stories of other artists who achieved their individual goals to become successful, regardless of the odds against them, and to give voice to the silent majority of artists who achieved when others said they didn’t have the qualifications or standards of education to qualify as being a ‘successful’ visual artist,” said Hoyes.

He added that the artists involved didn’t “wait around” for the world to catch up with them – instead they began manufacturing, publishing, and distributing works of art using modern media and business practices.

This full-scale museum presentation brings together 19 artists who played an integral role in what will be recognized as the first fully African-American Art Movement coming out of Southern California during the last three decades of the 20th century.

The artists include Ernie Barnes, Varnette P. Honeywood, Bernard Stanley Hoyes, Charles Bibbs, Nathaniel Bustion, Synthia Saint James, Kathleen Atkins Wilson, Kenneth Gatewood, Charles Dickson, Joseph Beckles, Charles White, Samella Lewis, William Pajaud, Richard Mayhew, Artis Lane, Jacob Lawrence, Noah Purifoy, Barbara Wesson, and John Outterbridge.

The exhibition runs until Oct. 5, 2016, with various workshops and debates taking place during its course at the RAM – an instititution that says it strives to "integrate art into the lives of people in a way that engages, inspires, and builds community".

For more information: www.RiversideArtMuseum.org.

Follow SWAN on Twitter: @mckenzie_ale