A Culture of Curiosity

“To be born in a free society and not to be born free is to be born into a lie. To be told by co-citizens and co-Christians that you have no value, no history, have never done anything that is worthy of human respect destroys you because in the beginning you believe it.” – James Baldwin

I’ve been thinking a lot about my own curiosity and artistic agency to create and produce art that is interest to me. How many times was I encouraged as I grew up to explore interests? What models did I have that were black men making art in, with and for the community? At the end of January, I had he opportunity to attend the opening reception of IMAGINE BLACKNESS at Creative Pinellas.

IMAGINE BLACKNESS  is a collaborative exploration of Blackness and Black representation through AI-generated images created by artist, McArthur Freeman II, and sociologist, Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman. What struck me about this exhibit, was the journey of curiosity that lead the Freemans to produce and present this art. I’m still thinking about how a question they had around black representation and artificial intelligence led to this dynamic expression of art. Reflecting on what I experienced viewing the work, I must admit that seeing so many images of black and brown faces peaceful, strong, joyful and content is outside of my norm. My consumption of black and brown in art are often filled with the stories of our struggle, our challenges, our pain and our constant resiliency. Are these stories needed? Absolutely, and I wonder how much more work that celebrates our successes, our wins, our joy and our peace will be produced as a compliment.

Curiosity killed the cat, is the common phrase, but my hope is that curiosity will save the culture.

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