I had the opportunity to attend opening night of the exhibit, “Samuel Levi Jones: Left of Center,” by Samuel Levi Jones at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.
In the exhibit, Jones, “provides striking visual commentary on the duplicitous and oppressive nature of American power structures,” according to the Newfields website. Jones, who is African-American and a Marion native, hones in on social justice issues as it relates to criminal justice, health care, education, sports and America, in general. The mediums Jones used to explore these topics include law books, encyclopedias, medical books and even footballs. Through his art, Jones reminds us that white supremacy is inherit in every facet of American culture, and it’s so pervasive and normal that we don’t even realize it’s there. The laws and rules that govern American society were created to keep white men in power and wealthy. While we say “liberty and justice for all,” we have yet to live up to this ideal.
These are some of the thoughts I had as I walked through the exhibit. Looking at “Portraits (Underexposed),” called to mind Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” as it made me think about how Black people exist, but too often we’re unseen. “Tar Baby” also brought to mind the novel of the same name by Toni Morrison. The piece made me think about how beautiful and strong the color black is, but how it also has so many negative connotations.
“Samuel Levi Jones: Left of Center” will be featured through Sept. 1, so there’s plenty of time to catch the exhibit — and this is one you don’t want to miss!
Contact Editor Oseye Boyd at 317-762-7850. Follow her on Twitter @oseye_boyd.