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'AfriCOBRA' Exhibition Looks at Art Collective

Related events include lecture, panel discussion and poetry reading

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January 29, 2010 | by Judy Moore
Video produced by Matt Paolelli
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The first exhibition in decades to bring together many of the most famous artworks created during a black art collective's formative years will be showcased at Northwestern University's Dittmar Memorial Gallery this winter.

"AfriCOBRA and the Chicago Black Arts Movement" opens Feb. 12 and runs through March 17 at the Dittmar Gallery, located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on Northwestern's Evanston campus. The exhibition and several related events are free and open to the public.

AfriCOBRA is an African-American artist collective that formed on the South Side of Chicago in 1968 and still exists today. It is among the nation's longest running artist collectives. Named originally as COBRA (Coalition of Black Revolutionary Artists), the group by 1970 changed its name to the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists. Adding the African reference to the name solidified the group's connection to the African Diaspora.

Tracy Vaughn, director of Northwestern's Center for the Study of African American History, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, curated the exhibition. Her goal is to increase the appreciation and understanding of how artistic organizations and particular artists, with strong connections to Chicago, influence African-American visual artistic production on national and international levels.

Unless noted, the AfriCOBRA events that will take place at the Dittmar Gallery include:

  • an opening reception that will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12. At 6 p.m. a keynote lecture will be presented by Michael Harris, current AfriCOBRA member and associate professor of art history and African American studies, Emory University, in the Wildcat Room, Room 101A, at Norris University Center.

  • a 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, panel discussion on "AfriCOBRA and the Chicago Black Arts Movement" will be held in the gallery. Panelists will include Barbara Jones-Hogu, a founding member of the original AfriCOBRA group; Kymberly Pinder, associate professor and chair of art history, theory and criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and David Lusenhop, an independent scholar.

  • a 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, poetry reading will feature poet, author, educator and activist Haki Madhubuti, and Northwestern alumna Tara Stringfellow.

The exhibition and related events are cosponsored by Northwestern's Dittmar Gallery, the Center for the Study of African American History and the department of African American studies.

For more information, call the gallery at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, e-mail dittmargallery@northwestern.edu or visit the Dittmar Web site at www.norris.northwestern.edu/dittmar.php.

(Nathalie Rayter, a junior in the School of Education and Social Policy, contributed to this story.)
Topics: Campus Life