Thursday, August 29, 2013


            I visited the High Museum of Art Atlanta for the first time since I moved here thirteen years ago. The Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks exhibition was moving. Johnson had a couple of captivating pieces. Self Portrait Laying on Jack Johnson’s Grave, spoke volumes to me. “Black” Jack Johnson (the first African American to hold the heavyweight boxing championship in the world) has a story that should be told to the masses. Many will look up the information on this important figure in African American history based on this portrait alone. They would want to know why Jack Johnson’s grave was chosen when there were so many others to choose from.

            The Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club (Thurgood) is another piece that I immediately fell in love with. Johnson’s material was said to have been pulled from his childhood and broad connections growing up in Chicago in the 1970’s and 1980's. I think the Thurgood portrait may symbolize some of the important male figures Johnson grew up around in his family and community. The male in this portrait reminds you of the strong, powerful but silent male figure that is revered among his peers. The presence of Thurgood commands respect and attention without saying a word. He is not cocky, just self confident. Johnson’s pieces have truly inspired me. I had the pleasure of bringing a friend along so they too could experience the beauty of his work. Moving forward I want to make a conscious effort to visit the museum more often.



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