Vine Street is located near the center of Kansas City; however, it can also be found near the center of African American culture. Overlooked and often underappreciated both in KC and across the world, this culture has a rich and developed background that more people should know about.
To celebrate Black History Month, the Black Archives of Mid-America Kansas City put up a special art gallery named “Depictions: People, Places & Things” in collaboration with Ramona Davis, a local curator, to celebrate Kansas City’s upcoming black artists.
Sheron Smith’s lovely “Blue Room” starts off the series of works, depicting a blue street illuminated by a solitary moon, as if to resemble a cold and lonely night.
However, ironically, the Blue Room (a jazz bar) itself seems to be flowing with life, juxtaposing the cold dark night of the street with the warm colors coming out of the bar’s windows.
Smith’s collection continues with a more modern-styled painting depicting a series of diverse people standing together, looking over a mosh pit of rioters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and other similar organizations advocating for social change. The painting epitomizes the oxymoron “alone together.” Prison like bars seperare each person looking out. Despite theirseparation, they have all chosen to stand side-by-side, hand in hand, ready to fight for their rights.
Finally entering the gallery, eyes are drawn to a pink quilt-like piece of art. As you approach, you recognize a great deal of the women stitched into the front. Nedra Bonds in her piece “Talking to White Girls” emphasizes the immense credit that white women have received for their societal movements, whether they are sex idols such as Betty Boop or political figures such as Hillary Clinton.
An African-American woman is drawn as the center of the work with the words “There Is A Black Woman Behind This” above her. With so many African-Americans overlooked in social history, Bonds created a moving piece requesting recognition for the African-American women that have contributed to the development of society.
The words “You is smart, you is kind, you is important” are also inscribed within the piece, referencing the famous literary work ‘The Help” in which white women hand off their children to African-American women to raise them, a parallel to the theme of the piece.
The final piece of the gallery will leave you stunned. The colorful paint strokes bring together a spectacular piece, all centered around the pure white flower crown that sits upon a young boy’s head.
Warren “Stylez” Harvey in Love is the Answer crowns the boy with innocence and youth, cancelling out all of the possible hate that exists in the boy’s world and concludes the gallery with the idea that, despite not getting the recognition African American’s deserved in the past, love and forgiveness can conquer all to create a more accepting future.