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D. Davis artwork


BLACK LIFE AS SUBJECT MATTER II has arrived at the OAC Riffe Gallery! The exhibition was expertly curated by the esteemed Willis “Bing” Davis, long time artist, educator, curator, gallerist, advocate, community builder, statesman, and more. Bing has influenced, inspired, and uplifted the work of Black artists in Ohio and nationally. His expert curatorial voice and the outstanding work in the show led to the exhibition winning the Ohio Museum Association’s 2021 Exhibition of the Year while on view at the Springfield Museum of Art. 

Chelsea Craig's thoughtful use of material creates layers of meaning. 

Cynthia Lockhart celebrates the inauguration of the United States’ first Black President.

The works in the show are timely reflections of the breadth, scope, possibility, and variety of all things Black Life from artists working in communities across Ohio. While the artists range from established “household names” to emerging artists, they share many common narratives, heritages, and lived experiences, an historical thread that winds through their works. In some ways, these artists and their work have taken generations, community, and intention to develop, and the exhibition creates moments of relationship, impact, and prescience between the past and present that allows viewers to pause, mourn, reflect, and celebrate the fullness of the Black experience.

James Pate’s charcoal drawing explores the complexity of learning and unlearning as it relates to personal and social identities. 

Bing Davis explores the prevention of police brutality through dance.

To spend time with this exhibition is to be enveloped in the labor of these artists and to share a window into their dreams, their pain, and their ever-present hope for a better future for Black people. These artists have given of themselves in real, vulnerable, and deeply impactful works. They inspire and explore new ways of looking, thinking, making, and creating community. When I think about the exhibitions that have impacted me the most, they almost always have something to do with an emotional connection and a powerful visual, one that I won’t easily forget. A good exhibition strikes a chord within its viewers and BLACK LIFE AS SUBJECT MATTER II has a whole song to sing. 

BLACK LIFE AS SUBJECT MATTER II will be on view at the OAC Riffe Gallery through July 8, 2022. For more information about upcoming BLACK LIFE AS SUBJECT MATTER II programming, and to view a virtual exhibition experience, visit

The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio's artists and the collections of the state's museums and galleries. The Riffe Gallery is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215. 

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Article by Aimee Wissman, 2020-22 OAC Riffe Gallery Marketing and Exhibitions Fellow
Featured image: Derrick Davis, "Kente Spirit #136" (detail), 2020

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