Century is organized around six major themes that highlight how art has long been a living, generative force in Black life. We explore the importance of Black Portraiture over the past hundred years and its central role in the project of crafting Black identities while subverting reductive, often racist, portrayals of Blackness. African Diasporic Consciousness brings together objects that work—both explicitly and implicitly—to transmit cultural values, practices, symbols, and philosophies that have persisted and thrived across vast distances from a shared homeland. Archival Memory considers the capacity of objects—constructed, found, or reimagined—to collectively document and preserve this consciousness.
We also consider the languages of Abstraction that have been meaningful tools for conceptualizing both personal and collective expressions best communicated by form and color. Black Mythologies explores how artists use the power of myth and spiritual expression to access histories and memories, imagine possible futures, and mine the complex contours of Black life. Black Joy and Leisure celebrates the construction of unapologetically Black social spaces, where radical rest and leisure are expressed without inhibition.
Century is curated by Adrienne L. Childs, Ph.D, Senior Consulting Curator, Phillips Collection, and independent curator nico w. okoro, MA. and accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with multiple essays.
The Museum has developed educational lesson plans tailored for elementary and secondary grade students that correspond with Century. These resources are accessible for viewing and use by the public. Click here to view.