Hello, I’m Kaywin Feldman, Director of the National Gallery of Art and I am proud to welcome you to Afro-Atlantic Histories.
Note the word, “histories”… This exhibition explores the many diverse stories – not the grand narrative of a singular perspective – that together create an understanding of the Afro Atlantic.
The Afro Atlantic, or Black Atlantic, refers to the places marked by the transatlantic slave trade – the brutal, forced movement of African peoples across the Atlantic Ocean. A key aspect of the Afro Atlantic is the lack of distinct geographic, cultural, or temporal borders. Stretching from Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean, experiences and cultures merged and the influence of the African Diaspora continues today. And those Diasporic cultures have created beautiful and compelling works of art.
Through a collaboration with Museu de Arte de São Paulo and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Afro-Atlantic Histories brings together some 130 works by artists from more than two dozen countries, spanning the last five centuries.
As you explore the six thematic sections, you will hear from a number of the artists, as well as the exhibition curators and other scholars. By encountering these diverse points of view, we can begin to understand and appreciate the art born from histories that are complex, multi-layered, and contested.
We hope this exhibition encourages new connections and questions that inspire us to reconsider Afro-Atlantic histories.