Due to the current raise and need for art and political discourse we’re re-publishing this article on the cuffs of the Black Art In America Fine Art Show Houston October 27-29th at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum. Located at 3816 Caroline Street. The featured artworks are among those that will be on exhibit at the show. (Artists works featured collage: Charly Palmer, Faith Ringgold, Najee Dorsey, Jamaal Barber) Originally published March 2014 as A Special Report from the NWA Democratic Black Caucus.

Art intrinsically impacts political discourse
by making us see and discuss issues and ideas
that have to be addressed as well as
events that need to be remembered.
— Michael Simanga


Stand Up.  Fight Back.
Suppress My Humanity?  Not!

“It is said that artists are the most dangerest because we mix with all classes of people,” Najee Dorsey said when we asked about the role of art in our political discourse.  “In a recent series of mine titled Resistance, I respond to a number of men and women who fought for their human and civil rights against those who would suppress their humanity.

“Change sparks change, and change needs time to build momentum,” Mr. Dorsey continued.

“In the fall of 2011, I decided that I would use my art in telling more substantive stories and not just pretty pictures.  The results were amazing for me.  The Resistance series of art works were just what many of us were looking for, including the curators at the Columbus Museum of Art in Georgia:  something different.”

Resistance on Display in NW Arkansas


Change The World — Get In The Ring
20×33 inches mixed media
from the Resistance  series
By Najee Dorsey
image courtesy of the artist

Several works from Resistance will be on display this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, March 22 and 23, 2014) at the Bentonville Fine Art Show in the Walmart Visitor Center Museum.  Curated and presented by the social media network Black Art in America™ in association with renowned art collector Esther Silver-Parker, the show will feature paintings, sculpture, and mixed-media works by some of the world’s best-known African American artists.

The 15 mixed-media works in Resistanceinspired in part by the artist’s perceptions of the Occupy Movement, offer striking viewpoints on the power of courageous individuals and their willingness to stand up and fight back against the status quo and powers that be.

Imbued with the strength of the human spirit and fueled by the emotive forces of symbolism, Mr. Dorsey’s imagery juxtaposes historical personages and archetypal objects with iconic slogans and evocative catch phrases to create a powerful, colorful, bold, often avant-garde dreamscape of ideas about politics, society, and culture.  Taken together, the works of the series deliver mature, elemental, and sharply focused commentary on the African American spirit of resistance against oppression through acts of civil disobedience and other, sometimes more violent expressions of humanity’s refusal to accept oppression and economic inequalities.  The series speaks collectively and dramatically to the thirst for freedom inherent in the human soul.

“That body of political and social commentary art works landed me my first solo museum show,” Mr. Dorsey said about his upcoming exhibit, Leaving Mississippi: Reflections on Heroes and Folklore.  The exhibition will open on August 21 at The Columbus Museum in Columbus, Georgia, and remain in gallery through January 4, 2015.  “Leaving Mississippi will expose an entire region to the stories of Resistance, the stories not so common to those of my generation or other ethnic origins.

“In school, if we learn about African Americans in American history, it’s from slavery to Jim Crow and civil rights,” Mr. Dorsey continued.  “During these times we’re seen as passive with no fight in us. However, there were many men and women who stood up and fought back.  So I lend my creativity in telling these stories.”


Deacons For Defense
30×20 inches mixed media from the Resistance  series
By Najee Dorsey
image courtesy of the artist

The Experience of Art:  a Conversation
About Who We Are, How We Want to Be

“Art is both the recording of human history and the vision of humanity’s future,” Dr. Michael Simanga, the Black Art in America Scholar in Residence, said when asked about the political power of works of art.  “When we experience art we are engaging in a conversation about who we are and also how we want to be.  Art intrinsically impacts political discourse by making us see and discuss issues and ideas that have to be addressed as well as events that need to be remembered.”

Dr. Simanga, a major player in the art world and a man of recognized accomplishment in writing and music and community building, will present the lecture “African American Art and the American Story” at the Bentonville Fine Art Show at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Resistance against oppression sometimes takes the form of direct and decisive action, done in the heat of a pivotal moment when fundamental relationships and perceptions are changing.  Slavery, apartheid, ingrained societal discrimination, Jim Crow laws, inequality of opportunity maintained by status quo power structures, racism perpetrated by institutions and individuals — these are aspects of the human condition that demanded resistance.  People act, sometimes dramatically, in the arena of the public eye.  Other times they act individually and without widespread notice in schools, offices, homes, public places, private venues.


Cherokee Black
31×50 inches mixed media
By Najee Dorsey
image courtesy of the artist

And these acts become resistance.

Some ultimately stand as iconic events in history, while others become individual watersheds in personal development.  Each and all lead to change.

Amistad, Emmett Till,
Gees Bend Quilts

“Hale Woodruff’s 1938 Amistad Murals at Talladega College inspired a national conversation about the little known but important incident in U.S. history, resulting in greater historical knowledge of African resistance to the slave trade and slavery,” Dr. Simanga said.

“Photographs of Emmett Till’s mutilated bodyinspired many to join the civil rights movement and brought the issue of lynching to the forefront,” Dr. Simanga said.

“Gees Bend quilts generated discourse on a number of subjects, including slavery and black resistance to it; rural poverty; exploitation of black vernacular artists by art dealers; and the intelligence and creativity of those without formal education or opportunities,” Dr. Simanga said.

Someone says no, or not now, or never again.

So, a work of Art, one piece of creation, can stand as a testament, or a symbol, or an historic artifact, linked through visual expression to a corporeal act that changes something within a race, a society, a culture, a community, a person.

Infinite Possibility

“Art ignites our senses and connects us spiritually to the rest of humanity,” Dr. Simanga said.  “This is why and how it changes culture and society, by transcending our personal experiences, forcing us to confront uncomfortable thoughts and beliefs while also comforting us by reminding us of the infinite possibility to create a better self, a better society, a better future.

“The greatest communication of ideas, experience and feeling is conveyed through art,” he continued.  “In painting, dance, music, literature, theatre, film, poetry, sculpting and all forms of art we know now or will discover in the future, we will find the discussion and debate and result of every major issue in history.”


24×24 inches digital media from the Resistance  series
By Najee Dorsey
image courtesy of the artist

Moved, Inspired, Enlightened

“As Dr. Simanga said it….  Art gives us a glimpse into the world we want to see for ourselves,” Mr. Dorsey said.  “So I’m hopeful those who come to see the works of art at the Bentonville Fine Art Show will be moved by the variations of creative expression, inspired and enlightened by work that challenges us and sparks conversation, and find their beauty reflected in the art of a culture that has influenced the world.”