Black History: RISE Arts Exhibit

Feb 16, 2014

Bobby Seale and OlokunOver 40 artists submitted work that references the legacy of the Black Panther Party. Los Angeles is the first of 5 cities for this show concept, which also includes Oakland, New York, Chicago, and London.

The Black Panther Party…these men and women, who were motivated by love for their communities, inspired people all over the world to organize and affect change in their own lives. Through art, this exhibit aims to inspire people to learn more about the true history of the Black Panther Party, and why this type of stand against injustice remains necessary for any society that claims to be free and democratic. (RISE Arts Collective)

Local artist J Michael Walker spoke about the art he is contributing to Rise. Love. Revolution. The Black Panther Party, a RISE Arts Collective exhibit opening Friday, February 21st:

When I was honored by the RISE Collective with the invitation to participate in this group exhibition honoring the Black Panthers, my goal was to create something that could add to the conversation.

Three years ago, Pasadena’s Sacatar Institute awarded me an artist residency on an island in Bahia, Brazil, the center of the African Diaspora for South America; and my experience of, and immersion in, the culture and spirituality there was profound and life-changing.

Their deities are known as orishas who offer protection, direction, and guidance toward self-control and fulfillment. I came to see them, in light of this exhibition, as metaphors for the roles that the Panthers filled for both the immediate and the larger Community, especially back in the 1960’s-70’s. The orishas became the templates for my portrayals of the Black Panthers for this exhibition.

For my process in realizing these works, I researched historical images of the individual Panthers and traditional images of the orishas with whom I related them, and then melded them together graphically, using various tools in Photoshop. After completing these arrangements, I then separated them into two sections, having one reverse-printed on glass, and layered, in a shadow-box frame, over the second layer, printed on fine paper.

The process, from research to compositional realization, through experimental printing and final framing, was all one of discovery and kismet—a thoroughly enjoyable immersion in creation and discovery for me!

Bobby Olokun:  Bobby Seale was the co-founder, along with Huey P Newton, of the Black Panthers. The orisha Olokun is a spirit of the depths and patron of the middle passage; a helper of those seeking political and social ascension who exhibits patience, endurance, and sternness….

Bobby Olokun


Edlridge Xangó:  Eldridge Cleaver was Minister of Information for the Black Panthers, the author of a collection of essays, Soul on Ice; and possibly the most dangerous-looking, sexy Panther official. Xango is a warrior deity; a divinity of thunder and fire, representing male power and sexuality—virile, alive, and wrapped in rock star swagger….

Eldridge Cleaver Xango


Huey Ogun:  Huey P Newton was co-founder of the Black Panther Party and a very complex man, filled with social consciousness and a strong temper. Ogun is a warrior deity, the divinity of iron, war, labor, sacrifice and politics; a spirit who presides over iron, hunting, politics, creativity, and truth; and whose possessions can be violent….

Huey Newton Ogun


RISE. Love. Revolution. The Black Panther Party
Exhibit opens Friday, February 21st, 6 p.m.
Art Share L.A., 801 E. 4th Place, L.A. 90013
For more info, visit RISEArtsCollective
Or call 626.578.5767

Exhibit curated by Lester Grant, Nery Gabriel Lemus, Rosalind McGary, and James O’Balles.


Baldwin Omolú:  James Baldwin was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, social critic, and activist. The orisha Omolú is the Plague spirit, disfigured by smallpox; shunned, feared, and revered; the contrast between silence and speech, darkness and light, secrecy and revelation.

Baldwin Omolu


Angela Oyá:  Angela Davis once said that “Herbert Marcuse taught me that it was possible to be an academic, an activist, a scholar, and a revolutionary.” The orisha Oyá is a passionate, fierce warrior and the bringer of change; a determined, disciplined, and powerful woman.

Angela Davis as Oya

Editor’s Note: Thank you to J Michael for inviting us to come see his artwork before it was to be assembled and thank you to Chuck Borom of Belle Arte for his graciousness.

Belle-Arte, Custom Framing, Art, Mirrors & Accessories, 3055 Humboldt St., L.A. 90031. 323.226.0203.

Josue of Belle-Arte with reverse-printed glass layer for J Michael's Eldridge Xango piece before it gets the second layer in the shadow-box frame

Josue of Belle-Arte with reverse-printed glass layer for J Michael’s Eldridge Xango piece before it gets the second layer in the shadow-box frame




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