E l e gba Folklore Society -- Race, Place & Identity Collaboration

Elegba Folklore Society is one of eight Richmond, Virginia art and cultural organizations taking part in a collaboration involving their respective exhibitions that address the themes of race, place and identity. Elegba Folklore Society's Cultural Center is hosting two exhibits during the artistic collaboration, Body as Art, a photographic exhibit by artist Thierry Laurence and African Root, American Fruit: Paintings by Ronald Jackson. Running through January 31, Body as Art is a black and white photographic exhibit that reveals the "artistic essence of the Black male body" through the manipulation of light, shadow and water on the subject. The exhibit will be a part of a conversation entitled "At the Crossroads: Black Males + Race, Place & Identity" on MLK Day, January 20th, led by Professor Derrick Lanois. Professor Lanois, an African American Studies professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, will focus on the complexities facing African-American males today by examining the timeline from pre-enslavement Africa to place and identity for African-American males as expressed in today's hip hop. Some questions addressed are what has happened in the timeline to "place" African-American males along with some of the associated negative dynamics and "how to shift the conversation."

African Root, American Fruit: Paintings by Ronald Jackson, the second exhibit hosted at Elegba Folklore Society's Cultural Center during the collaboration, examines African-American identity and the influence of African-Americans on American society. One of Jackson's paintings that vividly captures identity and place renders a young African-American girl on her way to school dwarfed by large, white U.S. marshals (based on a famous photograph of Ruby Bridges in 1960) against a foreground portrait of Barack Obama standing in front of the 2008 campaign slogan and chant, "Change we can believe in," "Yes We Can." The exhibit opens on February 7th during Richmond's cultural First Fridays Artwalk with a talk by the artist entitled "Culture, Art and Social Messaging." Jackson will discuss his artwork and art's place in African-American culture. There will also be a tribute at the event to the sit-ins at the Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth lunch counters, which began on February 1, 1960. The African Root, American Fruit:Paintings by Ronald Jackson exhibit runs through April 30.

Other Richmond cultural organizations participating in the collaboration on race, place and identity include the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Black Iris Gallery, 1708 Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University's Anderson Gallery, Reynolds Gallery, Valentine Richmond History Center and Candela Books and Gallery.

The Elegba Folklore Society's Cultural Center is at 101 East Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia. Further information can be found at http://www.efsinc.org/

Below are two representations from the exhibits Body as Art and African Root, American Fruit: Paintings by Ronald Jackson.


Sandra Kwesi Cameron is a writer who lives in New York City. She has reviewed The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) for nytheatre.com.