As a budding young artist, I was heavily influenced by the art and people of AfriCOBRA. Many thanks to my parents, for providing me with information and an introduction into this world. It was at an age when I was probably too young to fully appreciate it, but the impression was made…and it was good. The individuals and artists I met as a child, helped form my perspective and way of thinking artistically as an adult. It’s important that we honor our pioneers and keep their legacy alive. It’s equally as important that we, as artists, leave a quality product for future generations.
In Chicago in 1968, a group of artists came together and began to define a uniquely black aesthetic in visual arts. They sought to make art that spoke directly to the needs, aspirations and experiences of black America, and that celebrated what was beautiful and heroic about black culture. The seed of what would become the AfriCOBRA collective was planted at the “Wall of Respect,” a mural on a Chicago building that depicted black heroes and leaders. The wall became both a meeting place and the community’s visual affirmation of African American cultural, intellectual and political heritage. AfriCOBRA was more than a collection of artists; it was a passionate call for freedom founded on a set of philosophical and aesthetic principles. In the struggle for liberation and equality within the African-American community, AfriCOBRA represented these principles through the medium of art.
AfriCOBRA was the blueprint for AWOL (Artists With Out Limits) founded in 1989 in Boston; a multi-faceted art production company that ranged in art from graphic design and fine art, to spoken word, music, dance and a variety of other artistic genre derived from the black urban experience.