Angel Rivera, Student Contributor

On the 28th of March 2019, the African American Student Union, accompanied by Ms. Lamons and Ms. Stewart, visited the Museum of African Diaspora in San Francisco. The museum consisted of many historical, as well as contemporary artworks that showcased African-American culture and lifestyle. The artworks ranged from intricate paintings to well-crafted handworks. This trip was not only a fun trip; it also helped the students connect with their roots.

The museum is known to change its focus regularly, and this year our students got to see contemporary art relating to modern-day struggles. From discrimination to underrepresentation, these artworks capture the issues that African-Americans face in our society today.

Upon walking into the place, we were greeted by a docent who helped us navigate our way through the museum. The students were given a background on African origins, and current events in the U.S. that affect the black community.

MoAD exhibits artworks produced by artists of African-descent, including “Jerome IV” and “Jerome XXIX” by Titus Kaphar. These two paintings depict two black men painted in a gold canvas, with the bottom half of the painting dipped in tar. These paintings feature real people, their faces being from their mug shots. It is believed that the tar represents the silencing of black men in America who get caught in the prison system of the country.

Another painting that caught my attention was “Lawdy Mama,” by Barkley L. Hendricks. In the 1960s, Hendricks grew admiration for portrait paintings from Europe, but he quickly realized something– none of the paintings were of people of color. Inspired by the Black Power Movement, Hendricks decides to create his own artwork, but instead of painting famous figures, he chose to give light to the underrepresented. At this time, Hendricks paints a portrait of a black woman to empower that specific group who are often not represented in such works.

The museum exhibited a lot of artworks that address black struggles in a different light that we are used to. Kehinde Wiley’s 2001 oil canvas addresses the issue of discrimination of black people in the professional world due to them embracing the culture, and choosing to wear traditional hairstyles. Mickalene Thomas’s rhinestone piece, “Panthera” delves into the strength that lies beneath black femininity. These were only some of the art pieces that are offered in the museum. Not only will you enjoy the beautiful art pieces that are exhibited at the museum, but these artworks also give us a more in-depth look into African-American culture. By looking at the different pieces, we get different narratives of different artists concerning black struggles in society.

Exposing our minds to these types of artwork not only opens up our creativity, it also helps us understand and connect with our community more.