The Art of Living Black Exhibition Displays Diversity of Life


An American flag plastered in $100 bills, bullets, and a gun; a portrait of a young boy shyly smiling among boulders; photo-realistic still-life paintings: the pieces featured in the Art of Living Black Exhibition now up at the Richmond Art Center represent a rich diversity of perspectives. 

Now in its 20th year, the Art of Living Black exhibition continues to provide the opportunity for local artists to show their work and start dialogues on issues often underrepresented in artistic circles.

“This exhibition is still so important and relevant,” reflects Jan Wurm, Exhibitions Director and Curator of Art at the Richmond Art Center. “The Art of Living Black is such an important forum for all of these artists, and it gives them access to a whole system of galleries and art circles that are often quite difficult to penetrate.” 

Many of the over 60 artists featured in this year’s show are from Richmond or the Bay Area at large and otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to show their work. To Jessica Parker, Communications Director at the Richmond Art Center, the focus on spotlighting local artists reflects the core mission of the local art center. 

“We’ve always been in our hearts a community arts institution,” Parker says. Noting that the Richmond Art Center is now celebrating its 80th year in the city, Parker explains that “We’ve always worked to engage the community and make sure that we do shows that exemplify the diversity and creativity of the people of Richmond.” 

Though the show has been running for two decades, Wurm explains that each year brings a fresh group of artists and works to the exhibition.

“There’s such a wonderful element of the unexpected,” the Exhibitions Director says. “We never know what’s going to be here, and I think that allows us to connect with the work shown each year in a new way.”

Some works are an exploration of art in a broad sense, other pieces have spiritual or political intent. Together, they represent the myriad facets of life for local African American artists. 

Continuing the dedication to community engagement and open dialogue, the Richmond Art Center is hosting an opening reception for the Art of Living Black on Saturday, February 6, from noon to 2 pm. All are invited to drop in, see the work, and talk with the artists. 

To learn more about the Art of Living Black, click here.


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