Monumental Tour Arrives in Los Angeles Showcasing Symbols of Black Empowerment and Honoring African American Histories
As part of Monumental Tour, Kindred Arts & the 10th Council District of the City of Los Angeles will present acclaimed African American artists Arthur Jafa, Coby Kennedy, Christopher Myers, and Hank Willis Thomas in a group showing of large scale sculptures across the City of Los Angeles. These titans of contemporary art appear as part of a traveling outdoor art exhibit, designed to empower social change through the arts. The works will open during Black History Month and remain on display through May 2022 at four locations in South Los Angeles.
“As Kindred Arts tours these monumental symbols across America, we are inviting municipalities and gatekeepers of space to fundamentally rethink how we might program outdoor public space to reflect and honor all human identities and experiences,” said Marsha Reid, Executive Director of Kindred Arts
“As part of our work to celebrate black history month, we’re proud to welcome these incredible works of public art to Council District 10. It’s been our priority to promote a bold, diverse and energetic cultural agenda because the arts not only contribute to the vitality of a community, they’re representative of a living history that informs so much of our world today—especially here in Leimert Park Village,” Ibert Schultz, Senior Deputy For Strategic Initiatives, 10th Council District.
Situated on carefully considered publicly-accessible sites, the works call attention to each artist’s distinct visual voice and engage with one another in a curated discourse. Collectively, the works honor and examine aspects of the African American experience, from the first slaves brought over in the 16th century, to the present-day prison pipeline, and the struggle for liberation in between.
Individually, the sculptures invite the viewer to consider themes such as colonization, oppression, privilege, Black middle-class labor, the decline of industry, Black pride, Black power, Black joy, and subjugation. Each work is an invitation to viewers to learn about and connect with a narrative or era that continues to impact the African American experience.
The Los Angeles iteration of the tour presents a unique opportunity to support the work of
South Los Angeles Building Healthy Communities, a coalition of organizations focused on changing the narrative to address the drivers of disparity and promote equity in South LA. (southlaisthefuture.org). They work in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles, facilitating artistic processes, open to all, that result in highly visible public art projects that tell dynamic neighborhood stories.
“During Black History Month 2022, Monumental Los Angeles gives us the timely opportunity to shine the light on the ongoing inequities experienced daily by South LA residents, exacerbated in this pandemic time. These incredible works speak eloquently about the key drivers of disparity and provide inspiration for a robust dialogue about how to address them in anticipation of the 30th Anniversary of the LA Rebellion,” said Karen Mack, Executive Director of LA Commons.
The deployment of this limited-time curation is made possible with the support of presenting partner, the 10th Council District in partnership with the City’s Departments of Cultural Affairs and Recreation and Parks as well as support from LA Commons, Big Bowl of Ideas, Los Angeles Urban League, Community Coalition (CoCo), the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, and The National Center for the Preservation of Democracy at the Japanese American National Museum (NCPD@JANM).
Those interested in learning about the works and seeking information on public programs can visit the exhibit virtually at www.monumentaltour.org.
This exhibition is free and open to the public.
WORKS & LOCATIONS
Hank Willis Thomas: ALL POWER TO ALL PEOPLE
LEIMERT PARK PLAZA. 4395 Leimert Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008
Hank Willis Thomas’ All Power to All People is a provocative artwork combining the Afro pick and the Black Power salute, both icons of Black identity and empowerment. At approximately 28 feet tall, the work stands as a symbol of community, strength, perseverance, comradeship, and belonging. The sculpture’s title references a legendary Black Panther Party slogan. All Power to All People is illustrative of the artist’s longstanding investigation into the role public art plays in shaping collective discourse and societal values.
Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad.
Christopher Myers: CALIBAN’S HANDS
BENNY H. POTTER PARK 2413 2nd Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90018
Christopher Myers’ monumental sculpture is symbolic of the indigenous cultures occupied and suppressed by European colonial societies, and speaks to the dynamics of privilege, oppression, and forced servitude. The title references a character from Shakespeare’s Tempest. Many consider the play an allegory of European colonization, and throughout the centuries, Caliban’s character has featured prominently in arguments that defend or resist colonialist tyranny. Interpreted as a white man’s burden, colonization was a means of conquering new lands and imposing the colonizer’s culture on the native people.
Christopher Myers was born in New York, where he continues to live and work. An acclaimed writer and illustrator of young-adult literature, Myers’ artistic practice is equally rooted in his storytelling and interest in global affairs.
Coby Kennedy: KALIEF BROWDER THE BOX
The National Center for the Preservation of Democracy 100-198 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Kennedy’s sculpture The Box is a protest work. The steel and glass sculpture replicates the dimensions of a solitary confinement cell. The exterior features texts and graphs that explore the U.S. carceral system. The work is a critique of the gross abuses of civil liberties found in American incarceration systems. It aims to provide a creatively driven introduction to the myriad impacts of mass incarceration and to inspire participants to envision a transformed world without prisons.
Coby Kennedy is a graduate of Columbia University’s Fine Art MFA and Pratt Institute’s Industrial Design BA programs. The artist and industrial conceptual designer have completed residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2011), Red Bull Arts Detroit (2016), and Anderson Ranch Arts Center (2018).
Arthur Jafa – BIG WHEEL IV
Nate Holden Performing Arts Center 4718 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016
Arthur Jafa’s Big Wheel is a spacious, yearning, and open-ended installation comprising four gargantuan, seven-foot tires originally made for monster trucks. Each is laced with a mesh of iron chain; like industrial chakras, they manifest Jafa’s obsession with the culture of monster vehicles that has fascinated him since his Mississippi childhood. The heavy manufacturing evokes the deindustrialization and transition to the service economy that Jafa’s generation watched unfold and that dashed so many Black middle-class aspirations. The installation features a sound component consisting of a loop of Teddy Pendergrass ballads, which are as much an authentic product of late-industrial America as are the tires and gantry. This installation was made possible with support from host institution Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.
Arthur Jafa is a filmmaker, cinematographer, and co-founder of motion picture studio TNEG. Jafa was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and currently resides in Los Angeles.
Health and Safety
The exhibit can be accessed safely in person and most locations can be viewed from a motor vehicle. The public can participate in all programming online, with updates available on Instagram at @monumental_tour.
As a reminder, those interested in learning about the works, and information on public programs can visit the exhibit virtually at www.monumentaltour.org.