In London the Black Cultural Archives hosted a pop-up exhibition covering the stories of Britain’s mixed race babies from American GIs. The photographic exhibit is based on the children born to white women and black Americans. This dichotomy of a bi-racial identity has long existed in social, racial and political affairs. Historically however it has not been given the space to be explored neither by the white status quo nor the black community. Herein lies the difficult conversation of navigating between both worlds and whilst feeling no belonging to either.
Author: Christabel Johanson
Art therapy is not just used in Western countries but utilised across the globe. In particular it is a useful tool when language is an issue. The benefits of art therapy are even more vital for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the young, or refugees. For example many refugees who have escaped persecution from African countries will have harrowing experiences to process. This is why organisations like Kuchinate are helping ease the pain of integration by providing a supportive community for those who are exiled. Many of the women are survivors of rape, abuse, torture or trafficking.
Christabel Johanson on art as therapy for African refugees
Photo: Miri Davidovitz
In a space where racism and inequality are still challenges, Sekgala captured the disillusionment of “Mandela’s children” who continue living through poverty and deprivation. Yet despite the challenges of their material world and living situation, we see that “home” goes beyond physical limitations and wealth. The empathic and compassionate images the artist leaves behind in this exhibition are the images he wanted the world to remember as South Africa.
Christabel Johanson on the South African photographer Thabiso Sekgala
Through their art work, these women confront the injustices of misrepresentation done to black women throughout history and disrupt the built-in prejudices they have faced. Importantly they also prove that the importance of black female’s bodies run more than just skin deep.
Christabel Johanson on Black Women’s Bodies in Art.
We should have more shows about Black creativity in the UK, exploring the dialogue between Black artists and how they are communicating the Black experience. There have been some exhibitions on Black creativity before, but often they aren’t given such a big platform or even if they are, it’s cyclic, a programming trend that’s then forgotten again for another decade. For instance, I remember in 2005, there was Kerry James Marshall at the Camden Arts Centre, Back to Black at the Whitechapel and Africa Remix at Hayward Gallery. All fantastic shows but then there was no follow up straight afterwards. I would advocate that it needs to be more consistent.