POSTERS OF PROMINENCE
An exhibit in Overtown explores Black artists’ contributions to fine art posters
Posters have a special place in the history of fine art. And while collecting original pieces of art is a hobby only reserved for those with deep pockets, posters serve as an accessible alternatives for those wanting to beautify their homes, dorms or businesses.
A new exhibit coming to the Historic Ward House in Overtown wants to highlight the historical importance of posters and Black artists’ contribution to the medium.
“Ebony Broadsides, Celebration of the Masters,” presented by Hampton Art Lovers, is a poster art exhibition featuring works of prominent Black artists throughout different periods of time.
Ebony Broadsides will uniquely feature posters as original pieces of art themselves.
A broadside is a large sheet of paper printed on one side only. Historically, broadsides were used as posters, announcing events or proclamations, or advertisements.
The exhibition will feature posters used to promote art, an artist or a gallery or museum event. “Sometimes we forget that posters are also art,” said Chris Norwood, who’s been curating the different posters that will be displayed in the exhibition.
Traditionally, posters have been produced in limited numbers by renowned institutions, often in collaboration with the artists and well-established printers, to promote events. What makes Ebony Broadsides different from other poster exhibitions is its primary focus of showcasing the poster art of Black artists. Work from artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gordon Parks, Elizabeth Catlett and Ernie Barnes, among many others, will be displayed.
“I'm showcasing what I believe are the masters of Black art,” Norwood said. “I believe we should all know who these people are because of their contributions and we should appreciate them."
Many of the posters displayed were approved and signed by the artists, which adds a layer of rarity and exclusivity to the exhibition.
The exhibition showcases posters that date back to circa the 1880s and as current as former President Barack Obama’s election campaigns. The exhibition will also feature posters inspired by hip hop and pop culture.
Visitors may even recognize some iconic images of Black fine art in the exhibition but may not know the history behind the art, Norwood said.
He pointed to Faith Ringgold’s “Tar Beach” as an example. Many people know “Tar Beach” as the children’s book. Yet, the book was inspired by Ringgold’s quilting, which features colorful motifs and center around the Black woman experience. The poster of “Tar Beach” will be the centerpiece of the collection.
Norwood hopes Ebony Broadsides will motivate visitors to see the value in collecting posters, especially from Black artists.“People may like art but they do not know where to start,” he said. “They think they need a lot of wealth in order to collect beautiful things but you can start with posters. It is a very economical way in which to collect and sometimes it is the only way.”
Ebony Broadsides, Celebration of the Masters will be on display from April 17 to June 1 at the Historic Ward Rooming House in Overtown and is free to the public. The exhibition was made possible by the City of Miami Southeast Overtown / Park West CRA.