top of page

Benton, Bruce, Yale Host Black History Month Exhibits

The exhibit at the Yale School of Art's Edgewood Avenue gallery, "Black Pulp!," is lighthearted in some ways. Visitors are greeted by a screen showing the 2002 documentary "Baadasssss Cinema," which chronicles the 1970s blaxploitation genre in all its cheesy, butt-kicking glory. Those who can tear themselves away from the screen — and that is difficult, since the movie is entertaining and funny — will find a serious exploration of 20th and 21st century popular culture filtered through the lens of African-American writers, editors, artists and cartoonists.

Kerry James Marshall's "Rythm Mastr" cartoon discusses philosophical subjects in slangy language set in an all-black world, and introduces its hero: "This is how it begins, when ordinary men, women and children will no longer tolerate limited access to the exalted places once denied them. A hero emerges to lead the battles. That champion is the Rythm Mastr."

In another artwork, a beautiful black woman dressed as a superhero sits atop the Statue of Liberty. A deceptively thought-provoking work shows a happy black family sitting under a tree enjoying a typical picnic, while flamingos, gnomes and monsters surround them. Another piece shows the ace of spades, reimagined as a black woman with a sword.

Display cases in the gallery show highlights in the history of black publishing: The Black Panthers' anti-fascist magazine, the NAACP's Crisis magazine, Miguel Covarrubias' "Negro Drawings" and Fire Magazine, "devoted to younger Negro artists." Others show less successful ventures, such as Lobo comics, which featured a black hero but which quickly ceased publication primarily because many vendors refused to sell it.

The hard-hitting attacks on racism are summed up by a drawing of two kids looking at a "whites only" sign at a restaurant. One says to the other: "My daddy said they didn't seem to mind servin' him on the Anzio beach-head. But I guess they wasn't getting along so good with the Nazis then." (READ MORE)

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Classic
  • Twitter Classic
  • Google Classic
bottom of page