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news release AfriCOBRA Co-Founders Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell to Speak at Akron Art Museum

For Release: December 5, 2018

Akron, Ohio—The Akron Art Museum will host a talk by acclaimed Cleveland-based artists Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell, on Saturday, December 15, 2018 at 2:00 P.M. The couple will talk about co-founding AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) as well as their individual artistic careers. Along with Jeff Donaldson, Barbara J. Jones and Gerald Williams, the Jarrells formed AfriCOBRA in Chicago in 1968, seeking to create a new kind of art that was politically engaged and reflected contemporary Black culture, appealing specifically to a Black audience. The group, still active today, has influenced generations of artists who came after. The Jarrells’ talk accompanies a retrospective exhibition of the work of their close friend and colleague Jeff Donaldson (1932-2004) at the Akron Art Museum, Jeff Donaldson: Dig. The event is free and open to all. Registration is required.

Akron Art Museum Chief Curator Ellen Rudolph said, “We are so fortunate to have Jae and Wadsworth Jarrell living and working in our region. They illuminate the cultural forces that spawned AfriCOBRA and speak to its continuing importance within a culture that is just beginning to recognize the legacy of these artist-activists.”

AfriCOBRA was created in an era of political and social unrest, amid an art world that privileged white artists and audiences. The artists of AfriCOBRA developed an approach to art that was inspired by the colors, rhythms and patterns that they found in the music, fashion and art of the African continent. Their goal was to create art that celebrated the richness of their creative heritage and delivered strong, positive messages for Black communities.

Wadsworth Jarrell’s work has been collected by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the High Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Art.

Jae Jarrell’s work has appeared in several major exhibitions, including Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties (2014) at the Brooklyn Museum, and How to Remain Human (2015) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. Her work has been collected by the Brooklyn Museum.

The work of both artists was exhibited at the Cleveland Museum of Art in Heritage: Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell in 2017-18.

For more information about this Art Talk with Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell, visit the museum at Join the conversation on social media and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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