de Young Museum exhibits work of South African artist Lhola Amira

ByJobina Fortson and Tim Didion KGO logo
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
de Young exhibits work of South African artist Lhola Amira
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Lhola Amira's exhibit at the de Young museum, "Facing the Future," tells the stories and experiences of Black and Brown people around the world.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The beads suspended in Lhola Amira's exhibit, "Facing the Future," are like threads that connect the experiences of Black and Brown people, from the U.S. to Amira's native South Africa and around the world.

"Who have had to cross the ocean, and unwillingly, who have had to cross the ocean, because of slavery because of colonial conquest, and have made life wherever they landed," Amira explains.

Amira refers to the exhibit at San Francisco's de Young Museum as a constellation rather than an installation. The haunting music and vocals that resonate in the background invoke pain, spirituality and ultimately healing. The human struggle mirrored in a poem by Lucille Clifton hanging among the beads.

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"And we have Lucille Clifton's poem as part of the work. Recognizing, and in an interesting way, we can place this poem anywhere in the world and when you read, they do, they live, they love, anywhere in the world that would make sense for Black people."

Amira's constellation is juxtaposed around the museum's permanent collection of African art and is meant to interact with it. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which includes the de Young and the Legion of Honor have been working to diversify their exhibitions. Natasha Becker was recently brought on to help make that happen. She's is the museums first African art curator and like Lhola Amira, a native of South Africa.

"I think that my you know, my appointment obviously coincided with this moment of racial reckoning within the United States and within museums as well. And really thinking through how museums can open up spaces for people of color, and bring their unique perspectives to the work that they do," says Becker.

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Visitors are encouraged to find their own connections. And perhaps reflect on their own lives and the struggles of others, stretching across oceans and centuries.

"To walk away with having sat in your own wound, to ask yourself questions about like, where is the wound? What is the wound made out of? How does your body symmetrical respond to woundedness. And where are your avenues of healing," says Amira.

"Facing the Future" is now open and runs through next year. Admission is free on Saturdays for Bay Area residents.

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