For artist Annette Lawrence, much of what passes today as "African-American art" is simply too obvious. "Some people say that if a piece of art has the imagery of a black person in it, then it must be black art," she says. "That's way too literal."
Black art -- and identity -- gets a fresh examination in "Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970," which opens this week at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. (An accompanying show, "Perspectives 145: Bodys Isek Kingelez," opens at the CAMH next week.) "Double Consciousness" purports to explore, for the first time, how the conceptual art movement of the late '60s impacted African-American art from the '70s to the present.
Expect more than 50 conceptual works, which follow the influence of political and cultural developments -- like the civil rights movement and the ascent of hip-hop -- on African-American art. The exhibition features mixed media, ink, found everyday objects, video, photo, sound, text and even ice. Seminal works by artists including Charles Gaines, Howardena Pindell and Glenn Ligon will be shown alongside new works by Paul D. Miller (also known as DJ Spooky), Senga Nengudi and others.
Lawrence, who has three pieces in the show, uses mixed media and everyday paper products like cardboard and brown wrapping paper. Perhaps the piece that will garner her the most attention is Moon. To create the work, Lawrence wrote the dates of her menstrual cycles from 1990 through 1999 and accentuated the piece with swaths of her own menstrual blood, although she hardly did it for shock value.
"It's a record about the passage of time as it relates to my body, but people look for different things on the dates," she explains. "They might see a relative's birth date on it, so it has a different resonance in their own life."
Attend the preview reception for "Double Consciousness" from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, January 21. The show runs from Saturday, January 22, through April 17. Free.
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