Saatchi Art: Piecing It Together: Black History Month
In celebration of Black History Month, Saatchi Art presents works by 15 Black American Assemblage & Collage Artists.
While American artists like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg have long been considered the progenitors of assemblage and collage art in the US, there is an extensive history of Black American artists working in the medium. In recent decades, the representation and inclusion of 20th-century artists like Romare Bearden and Betye Saar in cultural institutions and art collections have substantially increased. However, there is still more to be done to understand the Black American experience as expressed through the assemblage and collage art of emerging artists working today.
The transformative power of these mediums—recycling cast-off materials with individual meanings and remaking them into art—made them compelling vehicles for Black artists working during the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The Black Arts Movement was led by musicians, writers, actors, and visual artists who aimed to convey Black pride through art and activism.
In this exhibition, these thoughtfully layered works reveal the deeply personal stories of the artists and move viewers to contemplate their own relationships with the subject matter and reused materials. The collection features artists like Lisa Whittington, who focuses on spirituality and tells stories of Black experiences—both past and present—in her vibrant, patterned works. Incorporating additional elements such as photos, text, and acrylic paint, Karen Powell creates collages that are visual flurries of childhood memories and nostalgia. Drawing inspiration from The Gee’s Bend Quilters—a Black women’s quilt collective based in Gee’s Bend, Alabama—Lisa Hunt explores the meditative effects of repetitive patterns found in textiles. Working in digital collage, Dave McClinton speaks to current and contemporary issues surrounding race, American history, and beauty standards. Based in Chicago, Kendall Hill focuses on the importance of self-reflection and finding peace in everyday tasks in his latest series of collages.
Through the manipulation and reconfiguration of found and reused materials, these artists (like their predecessors) produce images of defiance that build up and unite their shared personal and cultural histories.
Curated by Aurora Garrison, Senior Curator at Saatchi Art.
Feburary, 2023 | Lobby at The William Vale