In honor of Black History Month, two area art museums are showcasing the work of Black artists in Louisiana. The Hillard Art Museum’s show, Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges, by photographer L. Kasimu Harris opens Friday evening. Acadiana Center for the Arts’ exhibit “Eugene James Martin: Heterochronic Collages” opens to the public Saturday during Art Walk.
Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges
Harris began his relationship with photography in 2005 while in graduate school at Ole Miss. A few weeks into the semester tragedy struck when Hurricane Katrina destroyed his hometown of New Orleans. Harris says his camera helped him process the loss he was experiencing and come to terms with the world around him.
Harris studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and following Hurricane Katrina become a photo journalist. His current exhibit Vanishing Black Bars and Lounges began as a photo series in 2018.
“I grew up in the bar scene,” Harris explains. “My mother was a music manager, and my sister is a vocalist. So I was always exposed to the culture. This project looking at Birney Imes book called “Juke Joints”. Imes went to the Mississippi Delta did a lot of different things [with photography]. I thought what he did was really cool.”
After reading the book he wanted to capture the ever-changing club and bar scene of New Orleans. In 2007 he began to notice how spaces that were predominantly Black were starting to change into more integrated or white spaces. Harris views clubs, bars and lounges as a hub for culture in every community. Showing this through his lens felt very natural for him.
Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges is a continuing series and has allowed him to visit many new places in his hometown.
“Some of the places I knew,” Harris says. ” But there were other places where I may have always wanted to go, but had never been inside. Then there were other places that I discovered along the way. So for every one that I went into, I went in cold. I didn’t ask permission beforehand, I didn’t notify you when I was coming. I wanted the moment to feel natural. While inside I would make some connections and relationships and then get permission to take these photos. ”
Ben Hickey, curator for Hillard Art Museum is excited to bring Harris’ work to Lafayette. He hopes that all who visit the exhibit will gain increased awareness about our surrounding world and culture.
This gallery was created to invoke emotion for those who attend. Harris created a playlist to accompany the works displayed in the gallery so people can get the full experience.
Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges opens to the public Friday at 6 p.m. The Hillard Art Museum is located at 710 E St Mary Blvd in Lafayette. The exhibit will be open until July 30. For hours of operation visit their website hilliardmuseum.org. To connect with the artist visit his website www.lkasimuharris.com.
Eugene James Martin is an artist best known for collages and ink drawings. Martin moved to Lafayette during the latter part of his life and stayed here until his death in 2005.
AcA is presenting the largest collection of his work since his passing. This exposition features more than 175 pieces of his work many of which explore the heterochronic collage style. This form of art takes previously created works and reimagines them with both photography and collages.
“We are excited and honored to present Eugene Martin’s work this spring, with a special
opening during Black History Month,” says AcA executive director Samuel Oliver.
This exhibit was funded by Derrick and Katie Bernhardt, RJ Fonseca, Jr. and by an Exhibition Host Committee. Oliver says this support allows the AcA to present this work the public via gallery hours, Art Walk and school field trips.
Heterochronic Collages opens to the public Saturday at 4 p.m. and will remain at AcA until May 14. AcA is located at 101 W Vermilion Street in Lafayette. For hours and upcoming events visit their website acadianacenterforthearts.org
Connect with WaTeasa Freeman by email [email protected] or on Twitter @wateasaf