I looked at him. His eyes could not have been more real to me if he were standing in front of me. Their piercing gaze symbolized his strength coupled with his torment. And yet his story was told through a pastel framed painting.
The first time that I saw the Kinsey collection I was immediately taken aback. I was amazed at how two people, a husband and wife, could amass such a collection that directly impacted the black community.
Both Bernard and Shirley Kinsey are FAMU alum who created their own vision of what black art should be. They should be commended for having a collection that exhibits both art and history. There are many times in museums where artists of a different persuasion exhibit their interpretation of black historical events. This is where the Kinsey Collection is different, as it exhibits artwork for and by blacks.
As I walked through the museum I felt a since of pride. With every step, the artwork screamed the history and culture of people who looked like me. It was a strange feeling to be so proud and yet so humbled by the opportunity to walk in the same room where
Malcolm X’s documents were. It was like walking in the shoes of my ancestors and experiencing their story on a personal level that I never thought possible.
Historically, blacks have been written out of the history books. Their interpretations of art have been brushed off as “to bold” or “off base.”
In actuality the works of blacks were ignored because they differed too substantially from the mainstream. The quest for creative recognition has been an uphill battle.
What few understand is that the black art form went unrecognized, in the same way as the history of blacks and our contributions.
Over the years, people have started to see the impact of blacks in history and particularly in art. What if Gordon Parks never captured the plight of blacks through his photo lens?
Perhaps it was the combination of the things that I loved most in the world melding together that made this experience so personal to me (art, writing, photography and history). However, I like to think that it was the fact that after years of disenfranchisement to people of color, museums finally see that our history is worth, at the very least, a spot on their walls.
October 22 at 6 p.m. is FAMU night at the Mary Brogan Museum. If you have not viewed the collection you should because it provides a uniquely beautiful version of black history, culture and art.
Kristin Murray is a newspaper journalism and African-American studies student from Jacksonville. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.