Yesterday I went to a Kwanzaa celebration at the Natural History Museum with two quilting friends. We didn’t stay for much of the celebration–too crowded–but we checked out the vendors. I bought a great jacket with an African patterned woven cotton. Also took pictures of the museum’s Origami tree; I’ll post them next week.
Today Renee and I went to the Whitney where we first looked at the Jacob Lawrence Migration Series exhibit that included only a small number of his paintings. I would have liked to see the entire series in one place. Unfortunately half of them are owned by MOMA. The paintings on display were a powerful statement about the movement of African Americans from Southern to Northern states between the two world wars.
Equally powerful, and much more dismaying, was the work of Kara Walker. While I agree with the New York Times review: "Brilliant is the word for it, and the brilliance grows over the survey’s decade-plus span," I know that Ms Walker has caused much controversy within the black community. I do not care to make judgments, but as I walked through the exhibit the thought struck me: much as I hate it, I was grateful that the stereotype of Jews as rich, smart and running the world, at least gives us who are nearer the poverty line something positive to aspire to, and few endemic cultural excuses for our failures.
Ah, Art as politics. Art as who you know, who your museum knows, who your gallery knows….the endlessness of it all. Even getting your art hung in it’s entirity seven years after your death proves political. I think I will go volunteer at my local library.