The Gallery at the Sheen Center
For today’s Contemplative Tuesday in our Faith, Hope & Love series, we present Ajamu Kojo’s painting BLACK BLOOD NO. 1: In the Spirit of John, Loula & Joanna Williams Family, Entrepreneurs.
See image below
Little Rock native and Brooklyn-based artist Ajamu Kojo’s powerful work has been seen in two different shows at The Sheen Center. First was an exhibition of his “Black Wall Street: A Case for Reparations” series, of which this painting is part, and the second was a curated show based on the Little Rock Nine. This painting honors and pays respect to the descendants of Black Wall Street.
Ajamu writes “Welcome to this Sanctuary as we pay respect and homage to Black Americans through a reimagining of past lives; a time when the Greenwood community of Tulsa, Oklahoma was practically self-sufficient and where the dollar turned over approximately 36 times due not only to the desire to contribute to the success of their own shops, but also because of racial segregation laws that prevented shopping outside of Greenwood.
“Much of the wealth was acquired during the oil boom of the 1910’s, however, a great deal of it was created and maintained through hard work, thrift and entrepreneurship.
“Greenwood Avenue was often referred to as “Black Wall Street” because of its economic relevance. The businesses which thrived within this district included grocery stores, libraries, a theatre and much more!
“One of the nation’s worst acts of American terrorism occurred in late May and early June 1921. Man’s inhumanity was on full display as 35 square blocks of Black businesses and homes were torched and bombed to the ground, and Black citizens were gunned down in the street by mobs of angry Whites.
“We pay respect and acknowledge the descendants of Black Wall Street. We continue to build, as a community, by referencing their foresight and applying it to our very own lives with a desire to become better Americans as a result of this reflection.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ajamu Kojo is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas. Kojo attended Howard University where he majored in Film and Television Production and minored in Theatre Arts. In 2002, Kojo exhibited for the first time at GUMBO – a group show with curators Patrick-Earl Barnes and Lawrence Joyner. In 2004, he exhibited with Carol Jones at the Atelier International Art Group. In 2014 Kojo presented his series of portraits entitled “The Otherlies,” at The Governors Island Art Fair, curated by Nicole Laemmle, Jack Robinson and Antony Zito.
He splits his time between developing independent film projects, working as a scenic artist with USA Local 829, and concentrating on his fine art works. In addition to working on such projects as “Law & Order,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Vinyl,” he is continuously developing works that take a critical view of social, political and cultural issues through story, slices of life, and moments of voyeurism.
Kojo lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
“The Job of the Artist is Always to Deepen the Mystery.” – Francis Bacon