“In A Promised Land” by Shawn Michael Warren (Los Angeles)

With its latest exhibition, the Carnegie Center for Art and History hopes to create a platform for dialogue, civility and understanding. “#BlackArtMatters” features works by 10 artists from here and across the country and opens with a free reception on Friday, Feb. 3.

“This is an exhibit born out of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, created to provide space for people to be seen and heard,” said Carnegie curator, Daniel Pfalzgraf, in a press release. “This exhibition is about sharing histories and celebrating lives, and to encourage understanding and respect among neighbors.”

“The Colored Gaze I” by LaNia Roberts (Louisville)

The art in the show encompasses many mediums — from painting and drawing to collage and photography. The artists, who range in age, were chosen for their abilities in capturing the human form and dedication to educating the public on respecting and valuing differences.

The participating artists are Ray Dalton, Stephen Flemister, Robyn Gibson, Natasha Giles, Christina Long, Fahamu Pecou, LaNia Roberts, Dread Scott, Scheherazade Tillet and Shawn Michael Warren.

And the exhibit complements Carnegie’s other two permanent displays featuring Southern Indiana and Kentucky’s connection with the Underground Railroad, as well as life seen through the eyes of escaped slave Lucy Higgs Nichols.

Shawn Michel Warren’s “In A Promised Land” is a depiction of the Tulsa race riot of 1921, which left in ruin one of the most affluent black communities in America at the time. In his artist’s statement, Warren points out that many American and African-American textbooks often leave out the event that is considered by many to be the deadliest occurrence of racial violence in American history.

“One has to wonder how this is even possible, but in the American conscience, forgetting has always been easier than remembering,” says the Los Angeles-based artist. “In a country where most would like to consider racial discrimination something that all but ended with emancipation and to think that holocausts are something perpetrated on foreign soils, a collective amnesia lasting nearly a century has buried the fact that a Black Holocaust did happen on American soil.”

“Night Catches Us” by Fahamu Pecou (Atlanta)

Pfalzgraf hopes the Carnegie Center can be a catalyst for change and openness — one discussion at a time.

“In this moment in history, the Carnegie Center for Art and History felt a sense of urgency to share our space to highlight the work and vision of both local and national African-American artists to bring national conversations to our space and community,” he said.

“#BlackArtMatters” opens Friday, Feb. 3, with a free reception from 6-8 p.m. The exhibit continues through April 8. Carnegie Center is at 201 E. Spring St. in New Albany.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."