“People want to talk about issues, but they don’t know how to approach it. Thus arrives the artist – we’re the ones that open the doorway and make it easier to approach,” said Lashawnda Crowe Storm, mixed media artist.
Crowe Storm is one of many artists that individuals can see during Art & Soul 2010. Brought to you by the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Art & Soul fuses Black History Month with a wide array of Hoosier artists.
This event is simply an extension of the Art’s Council’s goal of creating an artistry safe haven and providing avenues of presentation to the masses. This event is their chance to introduce and expose Black artists to other races and cultures.
To better serve patrons, Art & Soul was restructured and this year includes a stellar lineup of the absolute best in performance art. Whether it’s gospel music by Brian Reeves and Heart After God; poetry by Tasha Jones; hop-hop by alpha.live; jazz by Billy Wooten Jazz Trio; or performances by Freetown Village, Asante Children’s Theatre and Herron High School Choir, it seems as if this year’s talent is on steroids.
Many institutions limit their appreciation for Black contributions to February, yet Art & Soul gives audiences daily performances throughout the month and extends that talent beyond Black History Month.
Added to Art & Soul are four featured artists who will have individual performances throughout the month and a second show between March and July where audiences can see them in their “natural habitat.”
New to Indiana is Shederick Whipple, an opera singer who will temporarily forego international performances to serenade his new neighbors. This will be Whipple’s first performance as a Hoosier.
Tongues have been wagging about the multifaceted soul singer, Bashiri Asad and the Arts Council believes everyone should know his name.
Patrons can listen to the poetry and music collective, Fighting Words An’Nem. The council also decided to feature this group due to their success in marrying poetry, hip-hop and live instruments into the same performance.
Crowe Storm, a mixed media artist, comes to Art & Soul with artwork so special and unique that she was granted the title of Art & Soul’s first visual featured artist.
“This is the first year we’ve had something bold and dramatic. I had to actually ask permission before we featured some of her work. I’m excited about Lashawnda’s exhibition. It’s not the typical subject matter,” said Malina Jeffers, public art project coordinator, Arts Council of Indianapolis.
Using art forms such as drawings, paint, textiles, ceramics, bronze and installations Crowe Storm begins her masterpieces with a social idea and research and allows her choice of medium to translate her message.
“My mother would describe it as a horror show,” laughs Crowe Storm. “I would describe it as an exploration to get the community to have a dialogue. I look at my artwork as a form of social work.”
For her Art & Soul exhibition, viewers will see tragedies such as slavery and lynching transformed into ways that will engage them and force them to react. Audiences will be able to use multiple senses when experiencing the southern bred artist’s work. They’ll even get a chance to participate in a future piece of art.
During Black History Month, she states there’s a tendency to overindulge in the positives of Black history. Crowe Storm wants audiences to get real and tackle difficult issues in addition to celebrating Black heroes and accomplishments. For Crowe Storm, her artwork goes beyond pieces that are moving or beautiful – it’s about memory, community and healing.
“At the end of the day, the goal is for people to be stewards to go out and make a change,” said Crowe Storm.
Check out Crowe Storm’s exhibit and an additional exhibit at Garfield Park as well as the entire Art & Soul line up throughout the month of February at the Artsgarden.
Originally called the New Negro Movement, the Harlem Renaissance was a literary and intellectual flowering that fostered a new Black cultural identity in the 1920s and 1930s. A major factor leading to the rise of the Harlem Renaissance was the migration of African-Americans to the northern cities and urban centers such as New York City, Chicago, and Washington, DC.
Some describe it as a “spiritual coming of age” in which the Black community was able to seize upon its “first chances for group expression and self determination.”
This Black urban migration combined with the experimental trends occurring throughout 1920s American society and the rise of a group of radical Black intellectuals all contributed to the particular styles and unprecedented success of Black artists.