Nekita Thomas, one of four faculty members from the School of Art and Design whose work will be featured in the Krannert Art Museum’s upcoming art exhibit “Black on Black on Black on Black,” said she wants viewers to come away with a new perspective on blackness .
“Blackness is multidimensional, period,” Thomas said. “There’s not a single frame you can put on it. In time, space, music, art and design, there is no one right way to have a black experience.”
The exhibition, which opens on September 24, will explore black identity and collectivity, among other things, through the lens of the Black Quantum Future philosophy. The exhibit will feature artwork and design by Nekita Thomas, Blair Ebony Smith, Patrick Earl Hammy, and Stacey Robinson.
Hammy said one aspect that will help the exhibit is that none of the artists should individually represent black identity in its entirety.
“We’re all at different kinds of levels, maybe emphasizing different elements, so we don’t all have to carry that in every single piece of the whole show,” Hammy said. “We support each other.”
Smith said each piece in the exhibit brings an aspect of the black experience.
“Every piece of art or design that we bring to the show is very much based on lived experience,” Smith said. “We explore black identity, healing, speculation, innovation and education. This is who we are, these are the lived things we do.”
Robinson said that as artists, the four are able to physically depict these aspects of Blackness.
“These things, among others, are things that black people deal with all the time,” Robinson said. “The good thing about the four of us is that we are artists. We can take what’s in our hearts and minds and turn it into a physical thing.”
The artists said the exhibit is for anyone who wants to see it, and they want it to start conversations.
In addition to the audience, Smith said the exhibit is also about themselves.
“First and foremost, I think this show is about us,” Smith said. “To be able to have the space, resources, time and money to make this work. By being able to do that, we’re able to reach black students and black locals as well as people who could relate to this with their own experiences.”
Hami said that the collaboration between the four of them for this exhibition has brought them closer together.
“The show itself is a piece of art that we all worked on together,” Hammy said. “Intellectually we’ve developed it together, we’ve had the pleasure of having so many meetings together, and we’re getting to know each other differently and more intimately as creative people.”
Thomas said that while the four are educators, this exhibit is their opportunity to be creators.
“You have us as creators, but you also have us as educators, and I fully embraced this as an opportunity to focus on myself as a creator rather than an educator,” Thomas said. “And I totally embraced him for the show and found him to be my inspiration.”
All artists have their own sources of inspiration, but they all share the same inspiration from the experiences they go through.
“Nowadays it’s just about opening my eyes and being black,” Hammy said. “I look at the news and social media and I can’t help but talk, but I don’t have the time or opportunity to go out and be on the street, but I do what I do in the studio and in the classroom.”
Smith said that while the exhibit will be lively and joyful, it will also cover serious topics.
“Funk and jazz, upbeat music will be a part of it, but it’s also about how I remember my ancestors, my parents who aren’t here,” Smith said. “There are many different ways that loss, pain and joy come out in our installations, and I want all of that to be felt.”
Stacey echoed this by saying that art should be taken seriously.
“Come hungry because the food will be amazing, the beats will be amazing, it will be an amazing experience, but don’t take the art for a joke,” Stacey said. “Because it isn’t.”