June 1, 2020

Barbara Jones-Hogu, Unite, 1971

A cry for unity from 1971—a message that remains as urgent now as ever before. It is the work of Chicago-born artist Barbara Jones-Hogu, a central figure of the Black Arts Movement and co-founder of the artists’ collective AfriCOBRA. The group determined to make art that was “uplifting, highlighting the beautiful and heroic aspects of African American experience” (Smithsonian American Art Museum), while championing an aesthetic that was bold, vivid and comprehensive. Jones-Hogu’s most vital contribution to AfriCOBRA, stylistically, was the incorporation of words into her artworks—an idea that soon took hold among the group—to ensure that the messaging was perfectly clear.