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We’ve Always Been Here: A Portrait of the US by Two Black Artists

We’ve Always Been Here: A Portrait of the US by Two Black Artists

Race, Class, Black Artist, African American Art, African American Culture, KOLUMN Magazine
[three_fourth padding=”0 15px 0 0px”]We’ve Always Been Here: A Portrait of the US by Two Black Artists


Divisions of race, class, and place haunt aspirations for equality and justice in the US.

DES MOINES, Iowa — This is made clear in the exhibition Make Their Gold Teeth Ache, curated by artist and activist Jordan Weber at Moberg Gallery, which portrays the US from the perspective of artists of color. The exhibit signals its subject with two enormous flags immediately at the entrance: one, with white letters on a black ground, declares: “A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday”; the other, the Confederate flag, hangs from a noose above an auction block. Glimpsed just behind them is a painting of a black man painting himself white, and in the back of the gallery a video emits sounds of shouts, sirens, smashing glass, and the ceaseless report of gunshots.

CREATIVE – Painter, Muralist, & Environmental Activist
Jordan Weber is a painter, muralist and environmental activist who uses imagery from pop culture to create works that intend to shock viewers from their daily routine and increase their awareness and compassion to the world around them. Weber’s works are often constructed from repurposed materials including plywood taken from blighted properties, concrete, neon, tennis shoes and spray paint. Weber recently received an artist fellowship from the Iowa Arts Council and his works are included in collections across the globe.

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On July 25, Jordan Weber presented an event hosted by the Des Moines Art Center and invited two prominent artists shown in the exhibit, Dread Scott and John Sims, to elaborate on their ideas. They pulled no punches, speaking with candor of their work and the issues it elaborates, detailing overt and covert disparities that result from unequal treatment of persons based on race — failures within American systems of jurisprudence, law enforcement, and education. The artists, in lively discussion with the audience, proposed solutions ranging from advocating radical change, to communism, and even revolution.

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