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AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People

Feature africobra 01

November 27, 2018 – April 7, 2019


Sherman Beck
Jeff Donaldson
Jae Jarrell
Wadsworth Jarrell
Napoleon Jones-Henderson
Barbara Jones-Hogu
Omar Lama
Carolyn Mims Lawrence
Nelson Stevens
Gerald Williams

Curated by Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D.

Artist Reception: December 6, 8-11

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In celebration of Miami Art Week 2018, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) will present a groundbreaking exhibition celebrating the founding of AFRICOBRA – the black artist collective that defined the visual aesthetic of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s. 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the collective which came out of Chicago.

In 1968, artists Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, and Gerald Williams founded AFRICOBRA, which stands for African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists. AFRICOBRA’s visual language is defined by the use of text, bright “Coolade” colors, dynamic, gestural markings, and raw, emotive, celebratory images of confident black figures. The vision these artists created went on to define the aesthetic of the Black Arts Movement. This historic exhibition will explore the founders’ individual careers and the artists who exhibited with them between 1968-1973 as well as how AFRICOBRA’s philosophy manifested into their works as a group.

Exhibiting artists include Sherman Beck, Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Napoleon Jones-Henderson, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Omar Lama, Carolyn Lawrence, Nelson Stevens and Gerald Williams. The AFRICOBRA artists incorporate processes such as painting, printmaking, textile design, dress designs, photography and sculpture with visual elements such as bright colors, the human figure, the lost and found line, lettering, and images which identifies the social, economic and political conditions of this ethnic group.​

AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People Curator Jeffreen M. Hayes earned a Ph.D. in American studies from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Arts in art history from Howard University, and a Bachelor of Arts in humanities from Florida International University. She is currently the executive director of Threewalls in Chicago, and has previously worked at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Hampton University Art Museum, the Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art. Her curatorial projects include “Intimate Interiors” (2012), “Etched in Collective History” (2013), “SILOS” (2016), “Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman” (2018), and “Process” (2019). She was a guest curator for Artpace San Antonio’s International Artist in Residence Program from May–August 2018.

AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People is made possible with the generous support of Miami MoCAAD, Miami Museum of Contemporary Art of the African Diaspora. ​Additional support is provided by Lehman Autoworld, Kavi Gupta Gallery and Audi North Miami. ​​The forthcoming catalogue is made possible, in part, by the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation. MOCA’s exhibitions and programs are made possible with the continued support of the North Miami Mayor and Council and the City of North Miami, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.

An artist reception will take place on Thursday, Dec. 6, from 8– 11 p.m. with an admission cost of $20 to the general public, free to Art Basel Miami Beach VIP ticket holders, MOCA members and North Miami residents.

Miami Art Week Extended Hours:

Monday, Dec. 3 – Friday, Dec. 7: 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. 

Saturday, Dec. 8 and Sunday, Dec. 9: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 10: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.