Every year, the graduating curatorial practice students at California College of the Arts organize a culminating thesis exhibition of their own choosing. Often, the group looks back, using the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts as a space in which to recontextualize a moment in history through the lens of their particular curatorial conceit.
With Void California: 1975-1989, the class of 2016 turned their focus to “punk-inflected media” responses to the neoconservatism of the Reagan era, presciently prepping us for artmaking in our current political climate.
The class of 2017 similarly looks both backwards and forwards with Black Light, opening March 16, an exhibition of just one object, but a full program of artist talks and panel discussions all variously addressing the relationship (or lack thereof) between cultural institutions and black artists.
These events, all free and open to the public, bring up questions of agency, historical models and the means by which communities can make themselves visible. In other words, Black Light is an exhibition that cuts out the middleman, creating a space in which audiences can encounter the issues facing black artists and the perspectives of black artists face-to-face, without the artwork as intermediary.
Highlights include a March 30 conversation between Dale Brockman Davis (co-founder of Brockman Gallery in Los Angeles) and Duane Deterville (CCA professor and art historian) on the overlapping histories of black artist-run spaces in Los Angeles and Oakland.