Vanguard Revisited: Poetic Politics & Black Futures highlights Bay Area artists and artist collectives whose work contextualizes the lasting impact of BPP ideology and activism, and the photographs of Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones.
Three uptown cultural institutions in New York City this summer have had significant exhibitions devoted to the history of art and social activism. Taken together, they paint an arresting portrait of the role of artists in affecting social change.
“Art has relevancy, whether it’s to exploit you or pacify you, or to enlighten and inform you. It’s a language, that’s the power of it,” says Emory Douglas, the artist who drove the graphic identity of the Black Panthers.
Currently on view at the Oakland Museum of California is The 1968 Exhibit, which focuses on the culture of that unforgettable year. Organized by the Minnesota History Center, the Atlanta History Center, the Chicago History Museum, and the Oakland Museum, this expansive show explores the tumultuous year whose highlights include human space travel, the assassinations of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the rise of the Black Panthers, the Beatles, and hippie culture, the first wide use of plastics, and many other things.