What does solidarity mean? Artist and curator Yusuf Lateef, with the support of The Black Artist Coalition, explores that question with the new exhibition Launch! Art in the Age of Solidarity. This is the first venture of the Coalition, which works to bring together artists of diverse backgrounds. The exhibition, which runs through October 30 at the Terhune Gallery in Perrysburg, is an opportunity for many to engage in a necessary dialogue about racism related to Toledo institutions of culture. We sat down with Lateef to discuss his work, the exhibit and art as a reflection of today’s America.
Tell us about yourself and your mission as an artist?
Personally, as an artist, I would like to be in the room with other like-minded people. Also, I have hopes that my mission as an artist is in line with the creators’ and allows my talents and work to be used in a meaningful way.
How does this exhibition affect you personally?
I feel that all art in some form is political. As a Black man, my experience in this world has been in the context of the history of this country and it’s treatment of my people. There is something that exists prior to that history and after this. With my work, I want to look at the thread that links it all together. As curator this exhibition is an opportunity to compare and contrast.
Tell us about the Toledo Coalition of Black Artists and Black Art Matters?
The Toledo Black Artist Coalition’s mission is centered around creating avenues of artistic legacy through advocacy, education, and activism. Throughout history, the African American perspective in the arts has been omitted, leaving a void within many mainstream cultural institutions. In reality, Toledo, Ohio has a rich legacy of African American artists who formed collectives to provide resources and education within the greater community.
This contemporary group was formed within the context of the current national and international movement to end white supremacy. It is our ongoing goal to create pathways for artists of color and to combat racial inequality as it continues to manifest within and in relation to Toledo institutions of culture.
The proposed question for Launch: Art in the Age of Solidarity is ‘how can we maintain the building of cultural unity during the time of social turmoil?’ What are you seeing as some of the proposed answers to this question?
The Toledo Black Artist Coalition formed out of a need to address these questions without the pressure of having the answers. As artists, we use our craft to create opportunities for meaningful dialogue and then showcase that in frameworks for sincere action in response to new information.
In your opinion, what are some ways we can thread together to make real societal changes?
Maybe we have to be willing to take risks and change our habits. We all have biases but some, more than others, have deadly consequences. It could be that holding ourselves accountable to those in proximity to us is a first step. Maybe that’s the only step.
Walter E. Terhune Gallery
7270 Biniker Dr., Perrysburg
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