Saginaw’s arts community celebrates Black History Month with these exhibits

SAGINAW, MI — Several new exhibits are coming to two Saginaw County art museums in February, Black History Month.

Art and history buffs, be sure to check them out while they’re here:

Saginaw Art Museum

Three new exhibits open at the Saginaw Art Museum during Black History Month.

The museum is hosting a Black History Month: Exhibition Open House event from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 1 for the three exhibitions: “Blacktiquing Presents: The Black Hand Side”, “From Africa to eternity,” and “Advocacy through Design.”

The new exhibits are described as follows on the Saginaw Art Museum website:

“Blacktiquing Presents: The Black Hand Side”

February 2-April 8

“‘The Black Hand Side’ is an interactive art installation that looks through the lens of race to explore American history and the experiences of American descendants of slavery. Recovered treasures acquired from antique dealers range from the most celebratory dedications of black people to the most vile and grotesque.To simply observe these historical testaments as whimsical or intriguing art, the viewer closes their eyes to real and enduring atrocities.Yet, by choosing to look at their dark side, the lessons of resilience, triumph, joy and determination – despite challenges and injustices – become clear, which is why poet Maya Angelou wrote “And Still I Rise” (1978).

“The Black Hand Side” is an ode to Malik el-Shabazz’s pilgrimage to Mecca, as depicted in Spike Lee’s 1992 film “Malcolm X.” It is centered around a cube-shaped structure inspired by the Kaaba that pays homage to Big Momma’s home, a space where weary souls return for healing, community, remembrance and reverence. Black magic-colored walls adorn images that depict experiences with racism, but also the tenacity and endurance of black people. The interior is decorated with an Afro-futuristic touch showcasing black culture, as imagined at Big Momma.

“The Black Hand Side” features objects from the Blactiquant Collection and art installations by Nyesha Clark-Young, DeVaughn Collins, Trel Frazier, Corrin Grooms, Kevin Jones and other Michigan artists, designers and collectors.

“From Africa to Eternity”, Lark Allen III

February 2-July 1

“For the past two years, masks have dominated culture. Both literally and metaphorically, masks interpret our reality and help construct who we are. They are usually intended for protection, disguise, performance, or entertainment. Masks have been used since ancient times for ceremonial and practical purposes, as well as in the performing arts and for entertainment.

Lark Allen III has constructed a vision of masks made from abandoned and found objects that tell a story incorporating a wide range of modern history. From Africa to Eternity appears as if 2D images created by Basquiat or Picasso were taking shape and receding into the distance. The use of found objects inspires hope and gratitude. The metamorphosis is real. Possibility of change. What was once old can be made new. Allen’s work honors the cycles of change present in life.

“Advocacy through Design”

February 2-April 8

“Founded in 1919, the Saginaw branch of the NAACP has been a longtime advocate for civil rights in the region. In its more than 100 years of advocacy, the group has used a wide variety of mediums to communicate messages associated with important causes. This exhibit explores design elements that have been used over time.

The open house event is free. Registration is requested but not mandatory. Click here to register.

The Saginaw Art Museum is located at 1126 N. Michigan Ave. in Saginaw. Visit to find out more.

Marshall M. Federicks Museum

A new exhibit celebrating works by black Detroit artists from the mid-1940s through the 1970s opens February 1 at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum.

The museum is located on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University, 7400 Bay Road in Kochville Township.

The exhibit is described as follows on the SVSU website:

“‘Harold Neal and Detroit African American Artists: 1945 through the Black Arts Movement’ explores the efflorescence of African American art in Detroit in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, as artists responded to civil rights movements, Black Power and Black Arts This vibrant art scene rivaled that of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The exhibition focuses on Harold Neal, who created some of the most powerful artistic statements of the time. It also features Neal’s predecessors, Hughie Lee Smith and Oliver LaGrone; his contemporaries, Glanton Dowdell, Jon Lockard, Henri King, LeRoy Foster and Shirley Woodson; and his successors Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts and Allie McGhee. These artists, in general, felt that art should speak directly to the experience of Black Americans using African American figurative subjects.

The exhibition runs until Saturday, April 16.

Visit to learn more.

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