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August Wilson Center - Front & Center » black culture - “Amplifying African American Voices”

Posts Tagged ‘black culture’

REVIEW: In My Father’s House

Posted in Exhibitions, General, Guest Posts, Review on September 12th, 2010 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment
This past weekend, we opened the first exhibit we ever commissioned,  In My Father’s House. It’s been years in the making–but well worth the wait. Underwritten by UPMC, with additional support from FedEx, it is a mixed-media exhibition designed as five rooms in a house. Each room highlights a distinct approach to preserving and displaying the visual art and material culture of people of African descent.  The rooms tell the story of a fictional Pittsburgh family, their hopes, dreams, struggles and triumphs. Guest blogger Ada Gay Griffin, director of annual giving at The Center, took what she thought would be a few moments to check out the new exhibit. Ada sings praises of the entire exhibit, but in this blog pays homage to the exhibit’s last room, titled “From Drums to Zeros and Ones.”

Inside "In My Father's House"

Inside "In My Father's House"

“From Drums to Zeros and Ones” is a multichannel video installation commissioned by the August Wilson Center for African American Culture for its newest exhibit, In My Father’s House, which opened September 11, 2010. The 8-minute anthem, created by award-winning documentary filmmaker Demetria Royals, is projected in a modern, dimly lit media room decorated with comfy seats and subtle electronic media references.The room and video have the same name.  Here, Royals (Mama’s Push Cart, Conjure Woman) invokes America’s complex heritage of repression, pitted against the intellectual muscle, political action, and sublime creativity wielded by intrepid African Americans resisting the horrors of Middle Passage and its lasting impact.

Culturally-literate, historically-informed and pop-afflicted, this is an emotionally riveting video poem, connecting multiple themes and powerful messages of culture consciousness and social change through media clips, a James Baldwin interview, and a stylized chronolography.

Depicting centuries of repression, struggle and achievement, the mini-documentary is a welcome tribute to both the embattled and the inspired. Images and commentary of 20th century innovators pop up unexpectedly. Text fades in and out, or tracks across the screen. I whisper the names of each fleeting image I recognize - Ethel Waters, Paul Robeson, Marcus Garvey, Phyllis Hyman, Shirley Chisholm…”unbought and unbossed.” The musical parody of the Wings’ hit classic Let ‘Em In at first seems more silly than profound as it sweeps over speeches, sound bites and brief shots of trailblazers that flicker by. All of a sudden, the enduring duality of African American experiences and expressions, represented throughout the entire exhibit, clicks in. And it feels just right.

Sorcerer’s Village, Romare Bearden, Serigraph, 1972

Sorcerer’s Village, Romare Bearden, Serigraph, 1972

The fifth and final installation in the 5-room exhibit, “From Drums to Zeros and Ones” is an appropriate finale for In My Father’s House. The total exhibit is brimming with masterpieces by Romare Bearden, spectacular photography, African American paintings, African masks and fabrics, an experimental video, as well as period furnishings, chosen by, and in some instances created by, the five curators responsible for assembling the meticulously researched art and artifacts placed in each of the rooms.  This is an exhibit for everyone and well worth the price of bus fare, parking, or a skipped lunch on a Saturday or weekday afternoon. One of the messages here is that regardless of your class, color, age, or education, any lived-in environment can be seen as a gallery of memories and of aspirations, depicted in objects of many forms, collected and displayed because they are important, because they are beautiful. Visit the August Wilson Center soon.

Ada Gay Griffin

Editor’s Note: In My Father’s House will be up through July 2011 at The Center, 980 Liberty Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh. Hours are 11 am to 6 pm Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is a suggested donation of $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students and free ages 5 and under and members. For information, call 412.258.2700 or visit AugustWilsonCenter.org.

Speak Up! The Black Man Is…

Posted in Education, General on July 19th, 2010 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment

2010-2011 PERFORMANCE SEASON CELEBRATING THE BLACK MALE

The August Wilson Center’s second full season in its new home will present international, national and regional artists, living legends and local trailblazers starring in multidisciplinary events in music, dance, theater, film and literature that celebrate Black men and boys.

Respond to The Black Man Is… Text in or type you answer here!

One-on-One with Lalah Hathaway

Posted in Events, General on September 10th, 2009 by Shaunda – 3 Comments

Lalah Hathaway

Lalah Hathaway


LISTEN NOW: One-on-One w/Lalah Hathaway

Lalah Hathaway is in the building.

Well, not literally, but she is in Pittsburgh and, from what I hear, is very excited about being the first performer in the August Wilson Center’s Inaugural Season. The energy level has been through the roof here in the Center’s offices…chatter is high on our Twitter, Facebook and MySpace pages–everyone is amp’d about Lalah.

Not that I needed a reason to, but Lalah Hathaway has been on heavy rotation on my iTunes. What is it about Lalah that makes people from various walks of life flock to her like bees to honey? When I told all of my musician and non-musician friends alike that the August Wilson Center was bringing Lalah into Pittsburgh, all of them had the same reaction–and it usually included screaming.

I asked one of my friends in particular, why she had such an appreciation for Lalah. Our conversation:

Me: Hey, I know you bought your ticket for Lalah, why do you like her?

Friend: WHY? WHY? I mean, there are so many answers to that. I mean, it’s not rocket science–she can SING!

Me: That’s it? That’s why you paid $45 to sit two inches from the stage to hear Lalah sing?

Friend: Lalah is set apart from the masses. Her music and sound are soulful, and everybody doesn’t have that. Most people sing just because they have talent. Lalah’s voice comes from a place of authentic soul.

My friend is correct. Lalah’s refreshing tone and vocal acrobatics are simply amazing, impeccably crisp and will leave you jaw-dropped for days. What’s bananas is that Lalah doesn’t even have to do a lot vocally to leave you memorized. I remember when her latest project Self Portrait first came out how my friends and I would listen to it intently, always turning up the volume at the end of every song because every Lalah fan knows that she tends to give us little vocal treats at the end of her songs. Man we wore that CD out. lol. Instrumentation — off the charts. Background singers (in her concerts) — will just have you shaking your head (do a Lalah search on YouTube to see what I mean). Her lyrics reach deep into your heart and connect with every issue in your life.

Lalah is authentic soul. Funny…..remind you of anybody else with the same last name?

PURCHASE TICKETS NOW

Keepin’ it real,

Treshea

P.S. If you all see a woman standing and waving at the concert like that old lady from It’s Showtime at the Apollo—that’s just my friend–she means no harm, she just loves Lalah. Can you blame her?

It’s Official…the August Wilson Center blogs!

Posted in General on September 6th, 2009 by Shaunda – 1 Comment

It’s almost time.

In less than two weeks, the August Wilson Center’s permanent home will officially open to the public. Up until now, the Center’s six seasons of programming has been spread across the Pittsburgh Cultural District’s fine spaces like french fries on a Primanti Brother’s sandwich–but no more.

The August Wilson Center for African American Culture will finally live, operate and exist in its own home at 980 Liberty Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh. Guess what—you are all invited to see what we are all about!

Now, you can experience the Center in a multitude of ways: You can always physically visit the Center (of course we encourage that), but you can also visit us via our Web site, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter pages.

However….if that’s not enough….(insert drum roll)….the August Wilson Center blogs! This is awesomeness on so many different levels because in THIS realm you will learn about the Center from the voices of various people working behind the scenes to the voices of people performing in the Center’s theater to those installing exhibits in the Center’s gallery spaces and everything in between.

While I will be the primary blogger, a couple of my other friends, who happen to be my colleagues, have agreed to get down and bloggy with me by submitting regular posts. This is magically delicious because we all share the same main goal — Amplifying the Voices of African Americans — but see the world through different spectacles, have varied experiences resulting in contrasting personalities and writing styles. For example, in this realm I tend to be more informal/some would say comedic, and guilty of making up a word or two just because I can (I promised my boss no misspelled words though lol). Sarah on the other hand, a brilliant mind, is very analytical and studious and may use a word or two that will have you searching Dictionary.com every now and then. Maybe that’s why she is the Manager of Education at the Center. The point is: RELAX and enjoy–it’s all done in a great effort to help you stay connected to the Center.

We look forward to being able to rap with you openly in this space. Feel free to hang your coat up and kick off your shoes. Let’s talk intimately about the art, history and culture of people of African descent throughout the world and in Western Pennsylvania and the issues that affect us all.

Real talk. Authentic voices.

So get ready—ain’t no stoppin’ us now!

Keepin’ it real,

Treshea

Treshea Wade - AWC Blogger

Treshea Wade - AWC Blogger