Reinventing Collage

Some time ago I wrote about the photomontage artworks of Theodore Harris, an African American artist whose collage work is in some ways comparable to that of John Heartfield - the man who virtually invented the technique. Like Heartfield, Harris uses photomontage to unmask the powerful and expose a reality not often seen, but his artwork is deeply rooted in the Black experience. Interestingly enough, as artists we share similar influences, and we both point to Charles White, Diego Rivera, Jacob Lawrence, and Elizabeth Catlett as inspiring role models. I’m pleased that Harris and I have established a friendship over the internet - staying in touch by e-mail and informing each other of cultural events and art news in our respective communities. He just sent notice of an important exhibition taking place this month in Philadelphia, the city where he lives and works.

Reinventing Collage is a group exhibition now running at the Art Around Gallery in Philadelphia until September 30th, 2005. Along with the razor-sharp works of Theodore Harris, six other outstanding African American artists will offer their own interpretations of life in America as seen through the medium of collage. The show includes works by John Abner, Leroy Johnson, Richard Watson, Walter Gholson, Kenn Brooks and the great Romare Bearden. The Opening Reception and poetry reading takes place on Friday Sept. 9th, from 6 to 9 pm., and while I won’t be attending… I’ll be there in spirit. As we mourn the unnecessary deaths of the people of New Orleans, it’s important to remember the essential role African American artists had in the creation of that glorious city. I have the feeling a new artistic renaissance is stirring in the Black community, and those who attend the Reinventing Collage exhibit may get a look at its future. You can find out more about the exhibit at the Art Around Gallery website.

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