love and bandwidth

Emory Douglas – Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party
August 29, 2009, 5:17 pm
Filed under: art, design, events, inspiring humans, Obama, objects, politics, popular media, religion


Emory Douglas is a revolutionary artist who worked as the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. Douglas is the current Elam International Artist in Residence, who is touring the country doing talks about his prolific practice and the art of revolution, at most of the major art galleries. Mr. Douglas spoke today at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. The place was packed full.

Mr. Douglas talked through a huge number of examples of his illustrations and collages done mostly for The Black Panther [newspaper]. Emory  has a very distinctive, iconic style of graphic agitation / propaganda which has ben mimicked often. Coined as a militant-chic, his works often contain a central stylised figure[s] which suggest dignity in harsh times.  They are symbols of struggle for equality and genuine rights; people victimized and powerless. Often the central images are supported with a caption text which adds a pointed often witty enforcement of the graphic message.

It was great to see examples of his current work also which is  stylistically matured but still fueled with the same motivations. His work is sill in relation to current event  such as Obama and recent [but seemingly the same] incidence of injustice and criminally inequality and ambiguity.

emoryAlthough it has been some years since the Black Panther has been active he still speaks with such passion and conviction which is truly inspiring [for over two hours]. A very strong-willed but humble man. Its great that the Elam program recognised and supports this form of graphic art expression and the importance of Douglas in an art historical context. Apparently all that was required to get him over here was a simple phone call in which he graciously accepted. Good to see someone motivated by the love of it over financial procure.

The only irritating things about the talk, as is often the case with such events were the questions by the audience that followed. I find it annoying when jumped-up faux-historians try to make profound comments which well, are not profound. It’s just simple ego-stroking in front of an audience with lame statements rather than genuine questions [one guy going on about Tupac and Biggie Smalls!]. Good though that Mr. Douglas didn’t indulge them and changed the focus towards something which was directly relevant, so kudos.

Overall a very memorable experience and glad that that I was able to see someone speak who is so historically significant in the field of art, culture, and politics.

You can see more Emory Douglas work here


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