GRAND BOULEVARD — Artist Raymond Thomas explores Black culture’s past while chronicling its present with his new exhibit, “Our Tomorrow Happened Yesterday,” opening at Blanc Gallery Friday.
Inspired by the tumultuous events of the last 18 months, the St. Louis native told Block Club he wanted to capture the fullness of the Black experience, from joy to pain to hope. The exhibit, part of the Bronzeville Art District Tour, is open to the public through Nov. 21.
“For me as an artist, I really had to kind of go to a place to really rethink everything as far as our purpose, and particularly as an artist of color, what we need as a people to move on and win in this climate,” said Thomas, who was a creative manager at Johnson Publishing Company for 23 years after graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The Emmy award-winning artist said he felt a responsibility to reflect the time using his mixed-media creations to tell the story. His work typically delves into current events and how and where Black folks fit into the narrative.
One piece, “The Resurrection of Tupac Shakur,” features the late rapper in his trademark scarf alongside Marvel superhero Daredevil, the names of police violence victims in a cluster between them. These images serve to counter the ongoing negative campaign waged against Black and Brown people since 1619, Thomas said.
“We create images that actually tell the truth about our glorious passband in our beautiful present and our bright future,” added Thomas, whose exhibit was funded by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
“Our Tomorrow Happened Yesterday” is fourth in a series of exhibitions curated by the artist, whose previous work has been shown at Blanc Gallery as well. Thomas credits the city’s thriving Black arts community with supporting artists like him for decades.
“You’ve got Gallery Guichard, Blanc, the South Side Community Arts Center, and the Bronzeville Artist Lofts — which I’m a part of — within a mile of each other. They’re exhibiting art and engaging the community. It’s a wonderful thing,” said Thomas.
An opening reception will be held from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15 at Blanc Gallery, 4445 S. King Dr.
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