Johnetta Tinker: Spiritual Longing in the Aftermath of Violence | Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, 2017

Opening Reception: Sunday, May 19, 3:00 PM

Exhibition Dates:

Maarch 19-27, 2017


Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists
300 Walnut Avenue
Boston, MA 02119

Info: 617-442-8014


Edmund Barry Gaither

Click here for event poster

"A Story, a Memory," 2016

I am ancient and contemporary. My influences are strongly rooted in the symbols, rhythms and movements of nature's surrealistic patterns. Visions from dreams and personal life experiences provide an outlet for my imaginative and spiritual growth. This allows me to "build truth in the hidden memories." My art is an extension of my ancestry, which deeply guides my artistic expression.

                                                                        ~ Johnetta Tinker

Exhibition Statement:

Spiritual Longing” responds to the Black Lives Matter movement that reenergized the activist struggle for justice in the United States following displays of disregard for the lives of black American young men in Florida (Trayvon Martin) and Ferguson, Missouri (Michael Brown). Tinker focuses attention on three dimensions of those and similar cases while placing them into historical context. First, she calls attention on the chronic brutal treatment of African Americans—especially young males—throughout the history of our nation. Alluding to cases such as those above, she points out renewed activist resistance to state brutality as shown in “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” Second, she flags the importance of witnessing in black American cultural tradition. Witnessing means seeing what happened and speaking about it. In works such as “The Watchful Eye”, she gives great importance to the eyes. A major influence in the rise of witnessing is the universal presence of cell phones with which abuses are documented. Many reports that previously would have been dismissed are now documented in graphic detail and cannot be denied. Omnipresence of documentation of police abuses has created an upsurge of supporters who reject violence in our society. What unites them is a rejection of injustice and a willingness to challenge it in the public square. Lastly, Tinker acknowledges the pain of violence in our communities in themes such as “Broken Hearted.”  At the same time, she affirms that hope cannot be abandoned, as in the clear message of “Hope Reigns Supreme.”  

Artist's statement about this series:

As I started to create this series of artworks, I was reminded of a South African Zulu saying, Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu which means, "a person is a person through other people." I want to give voice to those who are longing to maintain a normal existence when a cherished family member transitions from this life to the next due to unforeseen violence. The impact on the family is harsh because unnecessary violence violates our most fundamental rights and principles. Our lives are built on as a foundation for future generations. It should not be forgotten that we must stand up and fight for our rights. However, the younger generation will still say, those things happened in the olden days but, "olden days or new days, the same unforgettable, unimaginable violence still happens today."

Image Gallery: