East Bay Yesterday

“Visions of Black Futurity” and the History of the Black Arts Movement in California

In 1968, an exhibition titled “New Perspectives in Black Art” opened in the Kaiser Center Gallery of the Oakland Museum. The show was curated by Evangeline “E.J.” Montgomery, a woman who was at the nucleus of the West Coast’s vibrant Black Arts movement during that radical era. According to Montgomery, the “New Perspectives” collection was “the first time that a Black Arts association has organized and set up their own art exhibit in a museum of this size.” Now, more than five decades later, Oakland-raised radio producer Babette Thomas is revisiting the life and legacy of E.J. Montgomery in a new season of SFMOMA’s Raw Material podcast called “Visions of Black Futurity.”

Across seven episodes, Thomas will explore the local roots of the Black Arts movement to understand how this often overlooked past could inform the kind of future they want to see, a future of Black creative expression released from the limitations of traditional art institutions. Explaining why they chose to focus this series on E.J. Montgomery, Thomas explained, “Black Art was her language, and she used it to advocate for the role and work of Black artists and ensure that Black art was accessible to the communities to whom it mattered to the most.” Listen to the podcast now to hear episode one of Raw Material’s “Visions of Black Futurity” and an interview with Babette Thomas covering what they discovered about the history of California Black Arts while making this series.

See photos related to this episode here: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/black-art-was-her-language/

More about Raw Material: https://www.sfmoma.org/raw-material-a-podcast-from-sfmoma/

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