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The UCI Black Alumni Chapter Hosts The Black Index Art Exhibition: A New Tomorrow

“The Black Index Art Exhibition” offered a preview over Zoom to raise funds for the Black Alumni Future scholarship fund and the art exhibit, which is scheduled to open in 2021, on Oct. 16. During the preview, which was arranged by Dr. Bridget R. Cooks, the Black Alumni Chapter awarded $1,000 scholarships to 10 students who demonstrated a commitment to the African American community. The funds for this scholarship were allocated through UCI Giving Day. 

Cooks is a UCI alumna and an associate professor in the UCI Department of Art History and the Department of African American Studies. She has previously worked on the museum exhibit “Ernie Barnes: A Retrospective” at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. 

Instead of showing portrayals of African Americans being incarcerated, Cooks aims to showcase their search for identity. The focus of the exhibit is to show that “[African Americans] are resilient, and that there is beauty even in dire political and social circumstances,” Cooks said.

The artists to be featured in the exhibit include Lava Thomas, Kenyatta A. C. Hinkle, Alicia Henry, Titus Kaphar and Whitfield Lovell. These artists express themselves through various mediums including drawing, printmaking, performance and textiles.  

Henry uses fabric to hand sew and cut out figures of dolls without expressions. The work that will be shown in the exhibition will be similar to her work “Analogous 3,” in which there are hundreds of faces depicted without features. 

Thomas draws mugshots of civil rights activists and emphasizes the clothing that they wore. Thomas was a recent recipient of the San Francisco Artadia award. The recipients of the reward receive $10,000 in unrestricted funds and access to the Artadia Awards program. 

Hinkle’s work includes the “Evanesced,” in which 100 drawings, large paintings and performance pieces show the “missing Black women in America and the African diaspora, from history to the present day,” according to Kach Studio. Hinkle will create 100 new art pieces specifically for the UCI exhibit. 

Lovell draws on wooden planks and says he focuses specifically on the turn of the 20th century on the “lives of ordinary people who haven’t been memorialized.” Lovell was a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship award that aims to celebrate creative individuals that are changing the boundaries of what is possible. 

Kaphar, whose work has been featured in Time Magazine, includes multiple narratives in one portrait by melding together classic paintings with portrayals of African American women. He wrote a short poem to accompany the work in which he expressed his dismay about not feeling safe as an African American man. 

UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts will soon be holding a similar event to “The Black Index Art Exhibition.” “The African American Music: The Sound of Freedom’s Journey,” which is scheduled to be held on Oct. 27 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., will discuss the 1619 Project’s “Episode 3: The Birth of American Music” and explore innovation in musical expressions from spirituals to jazz and contemporary music.

Magaly Bravo is a Campus News Intern for the 2020 Fall quarter. She can be reached at bravomt@uci.edu.