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Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art presents the U.S. debut of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, on view February 3 through April 23, 2018.

Saturday, February 3, 2018 to Saturday, April 21, 2018
Rates/Admission Prices

Tickets are $10 per person
Free to all members of Crystal Bridges & youth ages 18 and younger

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR 72712
Hours of Operation

Saturday & Sunday: 10am to 6pm
Monday: 11am to 6pm
Wednesday - Friday: 11am to 9pm
Tuesday: Closed

Developed by the Tate Modern in London, Soul of a Nation shines a bright light on the vital contribution of Black artists to an important period in American art and history. Featuring the work of 60 artists and including 164 vibrant paintings, powerful murals, photographs, sculpture, and more, this landmark exhibition is a rare opportunity to see era-defining artworks that changed the face of art in America.  Crystal Bridges is one of only two U.S. venues to host Soul of a Nation. Following its debut in Bentonville, the exhibition travels to the Brooklyn Museum in New York.  

The variety of artworks in the exhibition reflect the many viewpoints of artists and collectives at work from 1963 to 1983. Soul of a Nation examines the influences, from the civil rights and Black Power movements to Minimalism and abstraction, on artists such as Romare Bearden, Noah Purifoy, Martin Puryear, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Alma Thomas, Charles White, William T. Williams, and Barkley Hendricks. 

“Crystal Bridges welcomes this opportunity to introduce our visitors to artworks created by significant American artists at key moments in our nation’s history, and to tell a more expansive story of American culture,” said Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges Executive Director and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. “We look forward to the much-anticipated U.S. debut of the exhibition, and to continuing the dialogue about the role of art in an ever-changing society.”  

The exhibition highlights key events, starting with the March on Washington in 1963, and considers cultural influences such as music, literature, and sports, on the artists of the time. Some artists, galvanized by the spirit of the civil rights movement, created images of solidarity, strength, and resistance, or paid homage to legendary African American figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Angela Davis, musician John Coltrane, and sports hero Jack Johnson; while others focused primarily on color, form, and concept. 

“We’re thrilled to host this exhibition and recognize these artists for their momentous contributions to American art,” said Crystal Bridges Curator, Contemporary Art, Lauren Haynes. “This is a powerful show that reveals the vastly different ways artist respond to the world around them. We hope our visitors will come away, learning about their new favorite artist and the understanding that there’s no one way to be a Black artist.”

The exhibition is organized into 12 sections, grouped by movements, geography, galleries, collectives, or the overall exploration of what it meant to be a Black artist during this time. A link to the exhibition guide with section descriptions is available for download here.