Deborah Roberts in 'Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary' at the California African American Museum, California, USA

Charles White's artistic portrayals of black subjects, life, and history were extensive and far-reaching. ‘Plumb Line' features contemporary artists whose work exploring the black individual and collective life resonates with White's profound and continuing influence.

From abstraction to figuration, the artists of ‘Plumb Line' - including Sadie Barnette, Diedrick Brackens, Greg Breda, Alfred Conteh, Kenturah Davis, Kohshin Finley, Yashua Klos, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Deborah Roberts - find conversation with White through their expansive renderings of black skin and black community, and in the treatment of black past and presence in ways that are both epic and intimate.

In ‘Birmingham Totem', Charles White uses the ‘plumb line' (an architectural tool used to determine verticality) to suggest the work of black artists as architects of change. This exhibition reveals White himself as something of an artistic plumb line: a builder of artistic opportunities and a compass directing us toward new aesthetic, liberatory possibilities.

Plumb Line is curated by Essence Harden, independent curator, and Leigh Raiford, Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, for the California African American Museum. The exhibition is presented as a companion to the LACMA exhibitions Charles White: A Retrospective and Life Model: Charles White and his Students.

6 March-25 August 2019

Deborah Roberts at California African American Museum