RETOLD: African American Art and Folklore

Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries
November 4, 2023 - March 24, 2024

RETOLD: African American Art and Folklore features art from the Wesley and Missy Cochran Collection and focuses on four themes that emerged during the curation process:



The works in this section of the exhibition are about reminiscing about and yearning for Africa. Remembering home provided the strength that helped people persevere through the harshest of times.



The African American story continues to be steeped in religion—from Christianity to spirituality, Orishas, and voodoo. This section features works that represent the vast complexity of African American faith-based practices.



These works retell the various struggles of African Americans: redlining, unemployment, mockery, lynching. African Americans have been marginalized, discriminated against, and demonized simply for their race—and the story is far from over.



This section of the exhibition depicts resistance via family connections, the performing arts, and of course the audacity to fight the good fight.


These four themes provide a comprehensive retelling of the works featured in RETOLD. In many of the pieces, the artist’s muse connects closely with stories that have been told by generation after generation. Folklore texts are used throughout the space to provide a richer, deeper story of African American culture.


The more than forty artists represented in the show all hold one similar truth: their story of joy and struggle in the African American experience.

Related Events

Willie Cole. The Ogun Sisters, 2012. Serigraph/Solar plate on paper. Collection of Wesley and Missy Cochran. 236ColW.1 © Willie Cole 2021

Thursday, February 29, 2024
6:00 – 8:00 pm

Member Exclusive: RETOLD Happy Hour

Join us for a special Members RETOLD Happy Hour with Senior Curator Dr. Jeff Katzin on Thursday, February 29th. Dr. Katzin will share behind-the-scenes information on RETOLD and guide Members through the exhibition. The event will be catered by Robert J. Events & Catering with craft alcohol from Four Dogs Distillery. They'll be making seasonal Shamrock Shake Martinis with Mini Shepard Pie tapas. Members are encouraged to bring guests. You can reserve seats for $5 each which includes the entire experience. This event is the perfect opportunity to introduce your friends and family to the Museum and show off the benefits of AAM membership. Willie Cole. The Ogun Sisters, 2012. Serigraph/Solar plate on paper. Collection of Wesley and Missy Cochran. 236ColW.1 © Willie Cole 2021

Thursday, March 14, 2024
6:00 – 9:00 pm

South African Wine Tasting and Documentary Screening

Immerse yourself in an enchanting evening with South African wines from the Kumusha portfolio by winemaker Tinashe Nyamudoka. Chat with wine expert Tommy Quitter, enjoy hors d’oeuvres, and watch Blind Ambition, a documentary on Zimbabwean men in the World Wine Tasting Championship. Celebrate exceptional wines, determination, and passion to benefit the Museum’s 28th Annual Wine Auction in June.
Registration required. $25 for members, $35 for nonmembers.
James Lesesne Wells Batsheba & Attendent No. 2, 1987 linocut 22 3/4 x 31 in.

Thursday, March 21, 2024
6:30 – 8:30 pm

Sip in the Studio: Relief Printmaking

Cleveland-based artist Tahm Lytle will lead an exploration on relief printmaking as seen in the RETOLD: African American Art & Folklore exhibition. Workshop will include printing from upcycled materials, linocutting and how the printmaking process works start to finish. Includes a drink and light snacks. $30 members/$40 non-members, registration required. James Lesesne Wells. Batsheba & Attendent No. 2, 1987. linocut 22 3/4 x 31 in. 193WelJ.1