COVID-19 has exposed societal and structural cracks and left many that fall between them more vulnerable and marginalized. In response, across the nation, many have taken to the streets to protest the racialized deaths of African Americans at the hand of law enforcement and demand a more just and equitable society. Amid this moment, located at the intersection of Crenshaw and West Slauson in South Los Angeles, sits the SoLA Contemporary gallery. SoLA Contemporary just closed a recent exhibition of homemade signs collected from local protesters as an artistic and visual manifestation of the desire and call for change. Staged visually and audibly to evoke the dense cluster of crowds that have made the news, visitors are immersed in the exhibit as if they were present at a demonstration.
“Art offers solace, hope and inspiration, even more so during periods of complexity. This exhibit can play a critical role in creating solidarity despite social distancing during this period of challenge,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who visited the exhibit. “We know art is not only a catalyst for change, but also how we understand the world we live in and this exhibit reflects the moment we are in.”
Through the generosity of Second District Arts Commissioner Hope Warschaw, and facilitated by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, the exhibition will be remounted at the California African American Museum (CAAM), not only to memorialize this point in the nation’s history, but to provide hope and inspiration to many.
“The California African American Museum is honored to receive this donation of protest art during this challenging time in our country’s history,” said California African American Museum Executive Director George Davis. “We thank Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas for his long support of CAAM.”
“I would say that every social movement also has a cultural movement. It is places like this where we get to see art and life reflected back on ourselves,” said Kristin Sakoda, Director of the LA County Department of Arts and Culture. “This is how we get to examine in a new way what might be around us every day.”
SoLA Contemporary is a nonprofit, artist-run organization that serves as a cornerstone for cultural and artistic innovation. Originally named South Bay Contemporary, the organization was founded by Peggy Sivert Zask in 2013 in Palos Verdes and then moved to San Pedro in 2015. In March 2017, it relocated to the Crenshaw district of South Los Angeles. Their goal is to advocate for change by empowering people from diverse backgrounds to take risks in their endeavors and to explore the intersection of art, culture, society and politics. SoLA Contemporary prides itself in being a safe and receptive space for anyone seeking to experience the power of contemporary art.