In February of this year, a show, long in the making, of the work of a collective of black photographers in 1960s New York City called the Komoinge Workshop, had just opened with a joyful celebration at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. And then the world changed. We are living with a pandemic. Our city was a center of racial justice protests that roiled our country in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others. And now we are on the brink of a national election that will speak to how we see ourselves as a nation.
AND YET . . .
Kehinde Wiley’s statue, Rumors of War, stands on Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Commonwealth, an exhibition examining these very questions of who we are, how we define we the people, and how we can reimagine wealth and come together for the common good opened a few weeks ago at the ICA at VCU. Galleries around town are showing work that speaks to this moment, asks the hard questions, and holds up the mirror, as artists do. And at the VMFA, visitors can see the work of those 1960s black photographers, now through the lens of the events of the past six months.
Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, curator of the exhibition, joined me via Zoom to talk about the show.