In response to interest from Chicago’s own Diasporal Rhythms, the Chicago Film Archives and the Black Cinema House present two films that explore past roots and pathways of black art. Diasporal Rhythms promotes and collects the works of contemporary visual artists of African descent. The folks at Diasporal Rhythms chose these two films from CFA’s collections for a screening and discussion at Black Cinema House. Stick around afterward for lively discourse led by Patric McCoy of Diasporal Rhythms.
Les Filmes (The Films)
Rythmes et Images: Impressions du Premier Festival Mondial des Arts Negres – Dakar 1966
(Rhythms and Images: Impressions from the First Festival of African Art)
1966, 20 min., 16mm transferred to DVD, B/W.
“Africa is where art and life merge.” Nearly 50 years ago in Dakar, Senegal, the First Festival of African Art drew crowds from around the globe. This symposium was created in order to have a dialogue with the rest of the world. “What significance can we attribute to black art today? How wide is its diffusion and influence within Africa and elsewhere, and what has been the scope of its contacts with alien cultures, in particular with European and Western culture?” The festival displayed every aspect of African Art. This film presents glimpses of this historic meeting, art from throughout the continent, and, with voiceover, an overview of the artistic values black culture has given the world. Note: For this presentation, CFA converted the print to black and white because of severe fading of the original color print.
Portrait of Two Artists
1982, 29 min., color, 16mm transferred to DVD
This film from director Carol Munday Lawrence follows two black painters, surrealist Hughie Lee-Smith and “dynamic cubist” Jacob Lawrence, revealing contributions of black artists to the American cultural scene through the early 1980s. The film examines the artists’ work, including Lee-Smith’s class at New York’s Art Students League, Lawrence working on a commissioned mural on an island in Puget Sound, and an animation of the illustrations from Lawrence’s children’s book Harriet and the Promised Land.
Black Cinema House
6901 S. Dorchester Ave.