One day I was sitting in my hair stylist’s studio where she has a small table with a dish of candy on it. A man in the studio, displeased by the offerings in the dish lamented, “Why don’t you have any black candy?”. “Black Candy?” A playful argument ensued, but I found the question absurdly random. Why must every facet of our existence be compartmentalized and consumed along racial boundaries?
When artist Lorraine O’Grady was confronted with a similar, albeit deeper question about avant-garde art and whether or not it had anything to do with black people, the artist set out to prove her naysayer wrong. In 1983, she took a team to the Harlem African-American Day parade and attempted to shatter the barriers between art and subject.
In “Art Is” she turned the parade audience into the art, shattering the notion of experiencing art a static context and transforming the experience into a dynamic, living, cultural phenomenon. The smiles and excitement captured on this day are absolutely beautiful.
To view the sideshow from “Art Is”, click here.