Medford Arts Center honors artists for Black History Month

Facility showcases work with its ‘United Through Arts’ exhibit

The Medford Arts Center celebrated the work of Black artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kara Elizabeth Walker and Lois Mailou Jones (pictured) during Black History Month.

The Medford Arts Center celebrated the works of artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kara Elizabeth Walker and Lois Mailou Jones, among others, during Black History Month. 

The center’s “United Through Arts” exhibit was created to help educate and empower the community by sharing diverse cultural arts through different works of art. The center recently featured “The Art of Japan.”

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Last year’s “United Through Arts” exhibit honored Black artists of the Harlem Renaissance, what the arts center described as “the most influential movement in African American literary history.” 

“Harlem Renaissance artists were just an amazing group of artists that were so deeply rooted in the arts through music, through sculpture, paintings, and they were a real prelude to some of our most well-known artists currently,” said the center’s Executive Director Lesha Moore.

During February, the center featured works by Basquiat, an American artist who rose to fame during the 1980s with his neo-Expressionism and historic role in the rise of New York’s downtown cultural scene.

Walker is an American contemporary painter, silhouettist, print-maker, installation artist, filmmaker and professor who explores race, gender and other issues in her work. She is best known for her room-size tableaux of black silhouettes. Jones was an American painter and educator whose work reflects a command of widely varied styles, from traditional landscape to African-themed abstraction. 

Moore described how the arts center chooses the artists it will feature.

“We sit down and we discuss about the artists, (the) impact that they’ve had on the American culture, on art culture, and we try to pick out artists based on their impact on the arts community,” she explained. 

Why Walker, Jones and Basquiat?

“These artists without a doubt, all three of them, have had a major impact on this country’s culture of art,” Moore noted. “Again, they have paved the path throughout their efforts in the art industry. They’ve paved the path for others to be able to have access to the arts,” Moore said. 

The center shared its exhibit with the public through an online display and a  YouTube video displayed at the gallery.

“I would like our audience to really connect with these meaningful contributions that these Black artists have made to our country in relationship to the arts,” Moore said. “It’s really just so impressive.” 

The next arts center community event will be the first Medford Arts Fine Art & Craft Juried Fair on April 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“It will be a huge day for the arts,” Moore said.

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