In 1943 Duke Ellington performed the symphony Black, Brown, and Beige at Carnegie Hall for the first time, describing it as “a parallel to the history of the American Negro”. The symphony’s title referred to the mistaken assertion that African-Americans can be categorized by a single color. However, the title contends that the experience was broad in spectrum.
Similarly, Latinos experience colorism and racist generalizations as African-Americans, evidenced by the various accounts of racial profiling by law enforcement and the media. Unfortunately the vast diversity in appearance within Latinos and African-Americans, as a result of various diasporas, falls behind the blanket of prejudice. As Ellington indicated, our variety in appearance perhaps will lead us to distinct experiences, but that does not negate that we still fall under the same umbrella.
In light of the shared experiences between both cultures and in an effort to highlight the complex stories that lie behind a label, the Black, Brown, and Beige exhibition brings forth artists whose work parallel the trajectory that Ellington’s symphony set out to cover; historical, transitional, and contemporary narratives, interweaving these intersections and interconnections guided by the beat of Ellington’s defying composition.
Black, Brown and Beige is curated by Nery Gabriel Lemus and Jimmy O’Balles of Suvir Arts Collective. Artists include Mario Ybarra Jr., Ken Gonzales-Day, Oscar Magallanes, Tito Delgado, John Valadez, Eric Almanza, Areli Arellano, Margaret Garcia, Poli Marichal, Lili Bernard, Dalila Paola Mendez, Adrienne Wade, Todd Gray, Umar Rashid, Sam Pace, Mark Steven Greenfield, Edgar Arceneaux, Wendell Wiggins, April Bey, Adrienne DeVine, Toni Scott, Holly Tempo, Richard Duardo and Lauren Holland.
Black, Brown and Beige is a free exhibition at the SHG Gallery. The SHG Gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and weekends during select public programming only.