Revelations: Art from the African American South
San Francisco Area
The cultural origins of these artworks can be traced back to the African Diaspora, slavery, and the Jim Crow era of institutionalized racism, which restricted both physical freedom and freedom of expression for African Americans. Despite these barriers, in the segregated and comparatively safe spaces of churches and cemeteries, as well as in the fields and forests, African Americans created a cultural language that led to the evolution of distinctly African American musical forms such as gospel, blues, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll. These rich musical traditions were paralleled by visual traditions that typically were symbolic in form or concealed from view in order to escape censure or destruction. Working with little or no formal training, and often employing cast-off objects and unconventional materials, these artists have created visually compelling works that address some of the most profound and persistent issues in American society, including race, class, gender, and religion.