Art, Community, Edge

Traveling art exhibit offers hope, optimism for future during political tumult

Courtesy Peter Kaplan

Forty-four life-sized, decorated bronze busts of Barack Obama rest in the Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater, part of a traveling art exhibit paying tribute to the former president’s legacy.

“Visions of Our 44th President,” which runs until Feb. 28 in the historic Overtown district of Miami, was coordinated by designer Peter Kaplan in partnership with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Kaplan’s interest in the Obama presidency began on the campaign trail in 2008 when Kaplan worked on campaign posters. After the concept for the exhibit was conceived, it took four years to create before being debuted at the Charles H. Wright museum in Detroit, Michigan.

The busts each feature unique artwork from a different African-American artist. Artists were able to alter the busts in some way to reflect on Obama and his legacy. Most are painted while some have other embellishments, such as in Angelbert Metoyer’s “Tarred and Feathered,” which features a disheveled feather crown atop the bust’s head.

“[The exhibit is the] defining of Obama’s legacy of hope,” Kaplan said. And, in a particularly tumultuous political environment following the recent election of President Donald Trump, many people are afraid of what’s to come.

Courtesy Peter Kaplan

“‘Visions of Our 44th President’ will give hundreds of thousands of people hope as this exhibit travels across the country,” Kaplan said. He believes the exhibit symbolizes Obama’s legacy and that there is great power within the artwork itself.

The exhibit is moving and powerful. Each individual bust resonates with the viewer, as if the sculpture is staring back at you. The exhibit functions in several fashions, paying tribute to the past and honoring it. For example, the bust in Preston Sampson’s “Tales Retold” features a Roman gladiator’s helmet, simultaneously depicting the former president as a major historical figure while alluding to the destruction of the once-great Roman Empire. Despite current tumult, the exhibit portrays the state of the nation and looks optimistically toward the future.

One of the artists featured in the exhibit, Arthur Bacon, discussed how his past experiences influenced his choice of how to paint the bust.

“Having been severely beaten for sitting in the wrong room of a train station just 50 years ago, it didn’t take long to decide how I would paint the bust. Chronological series of images in acrylics pay homage to countless maimed, murdered and enslaved African Americans,” said Bacon in the exhibit’s website, www.44thpresident.us.

This statement on his piece, “From There to Here,” is poignant, demonstrating that the busts convey sentiments based on decades of experiences. In the current political climate, an exhibit as visually powerful and forward-thinking as “Visions of Our 44th President” is paramount.

Courtesy Peter Kaplan

 

If You Go:

WHAT: “Visions of Our 44th President”

WHERE: Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater

819 NW. 2nd Ave.

WHEN: Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday

COST: Students $15, general admission $20

CONTACT: 786-708-4610

Correction, Feb. 21, 2017: This article originally stated that Peter Kaplan was the president of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which was incorrect. Kaplan is a designer who worked in partnership with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

February 15, 2017

Reporters

Tristan Niskanen


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Miami Hurricanes fans might recall their favorite college football players in past years dreaming of ...

The new quarterback is usually the ones fans gush over. For the University of Miami, last season it ...

Debate all you want, but University of Miami football coach Mark Richt made it clearer than ever Wed ...

Last year, when University of Miami tailback Mark Walton attended the Atlantic Coast Conference Foot ...

The Miami Hurricanes will have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball this season, and four play ...

Following the summit between Trump and Putin, reaction from politicians, pundits and former intellig ...

A School of Communication associate professor played an important hand—an artistic one!—in World Cup ...

University of Miami law and political science professors weigh in on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee. ...

Research bioclimatologists with the UM Synoptic Climatology Lab counsel cities on how to manage risi ...

A UM-led study is examining how children’s play behavior at beaches could impact their health. ...

Miami junior wide receiver Ahmmon Richards was among those named to the watch list for the 2018 Bile ...

University of Miami junior running back Travis Homer was named a preseason candidate for the Doak Wa ...

Six former Canes competed on NBA Summer League teams, with three averaging at least 10 points per ga ...

Quick Hits gives University of Miami volleyball fans an opportunity to get to know the new student-a ...

The University of Miami's volleyball team earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association (A ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.