“We’re All Here” is a piece by artist Ralph Jones, and is one of many cultural pieces being shown at the extended “Souls of Black Folk” art exhibition at Scarab Club Detroit.
Photo courtesy of Scarab Club Detroit
We celebrate Black History Month beyond February over here — and the good folks at the Scarab Club Detroit and Donna Jackson of DMJStudio do, too. That’s one of the reasons why these groups are extending their ‘Souls of Black Folk’ art exhibition to March 20 at the Scarab Club Detroit, located at 217 Farnsworth Street (across the street from the Michigan Science Center and the Detroit Institute of Art).
The exhibition is about “bearing one’s soul and telling one’s truth. It is about controlling a narrative and sharing the expressions of Black Americans by Detroit artists,” according to a press release.
In the prestigious Scarab Club’s over 100-year history, this was the first time the artist clubhouse and gallery hosted a Black History Month art exhibition, according to a press release.
‘The Souls of Black Folk’ is described as “like no other art exhibition” that has graced the gallery walls at the Scarab Club.
Jackson, an artist, curated the collection of Black Art (showcasing experienced and emerging Detroit Black Artists). The exhibition was initially through February, but due to popular demand, it was extended to this month. Jackson is also a designer at DMJ Studio in Detroit.
DMJStudio is a creative studio geared to creating art projects and events that close gaps between community and culture through public art, exhibits, film, and social collaboration. The studio’s heartbeat is to ensure art and culture are accessible everywhere and to all.
“I am honored to curate this Black History Month exhibition at the Scarab Club, featuring Detroit-based artists,” said Donna Jackson, Souls of Black Folk curator and principal at DMJStudio.
“This exhibition is something I’ve been thinking about for some time now. The curatorial inspiration for Souls of Black Folks comes from a passage in W.E.B. De Bois’ 1903 book of the same name, where he expresses the difficulties – a duality at being Black in America,” said Jackson.
“One ever feels his twoness – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”
“But what of black women?… I most sincerely doubt if any other race of women could have brought its fineness up through so devilish a fire…To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships” (W.E.B. De Bois).
“These words from W.E.B. Du Bois are over 100 years old, and yet they still ring true today. With the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and the amount of pain and anger I’ve seen poured into our streets with protest rallies, and in our media, I went back and re-read “The Souls of Black Folk” and found inspiration for the idea to curate an art exhibition that captures Detroit’s Black artists’ expressions from these moments. At the time I did not (know) where, or when, only that I needed to do it,” Jackson added.
Artists participating in Souls of Black Folks include Asia Hamilton, Carl Wilson, Carol Morisseau, Phillip Simpson, Sabrina Nelson, Desiree Kelly, Charles Miller, Cydney Camp, Mandisa Smith, Monica Brown, Rachel E. Thomas, Ralph Jones, Rita Dickerson, Ricky Weaver, Sydney James, Olivia Guterson, Taurus Burns, and Yvette Rock, to name a few.
“The Scarab Club is thrilled to be exhibiting Souls of Black Folk,” said Mariuca Rofick, board president at the Scarab Club.
“The Scarab Club has been serving and supporting the Detroit artist community for more than 100 years. Our distant past was not always diverse, equitable, or inclusive to African Americans. However, our present and future (are) painted with color – Black and brown that embraces diversity and inclusion in artistic expressions, thoughts, and deeds. Souls of Black Folk is a first for the Scarab Club, and as we celebrate Black History Month, we do so by honoring and showcasing the artistic genius of Detroit’s Black artists. The honor is truly ours to work with Donna Jackson, an emerging Black female curator who has brought this exhibition to the Scarab Club,” said Rofick.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, strict CDC protocols of indoor mask-wearing, social distancing, reduced space capacity, hand washing, and sanitizing will be strictly enforced at the Scarab Club.