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Toledo Museum of Art in partnership with the Toledo Black Artist Coalition presents a digital Juneteenth exhibition

Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) is set to host Out of the Dark: A Historic Journey, a digital exhibition in recognition of Juneteenth, an observance acknowledging the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. Juneteenth (a combination of the words June and nineteenth) is recognized in most states and the District of Columbia as a local holiday or ceremonial observance, though it is not yet a federal holiday.

TMA invited eight members of the Toledo Black Artist Coalition (TBAC) to curate an online exhibition featuring influential works from the Museum’s collection, including sculptor Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012) and photographer Gordon Parks (1912-2006), among others. TBAC guest curators are noted local artists James Dickerson, Dustin Hostetler, Audrey Johnson, Imani Lateef, Yusuf Lateef, Lydia Myrick, Simone Spruce and Paul Verdell. The online exhibition launches on TMA’s website on June 19, 2021.

“The Toledo Museum of Art is committed to using its platform to broaden the narrative of art history, and Out of the Dark: A Historic Journey achieves this end in powerful and thought-provoking ways,” said Adam Levine, TMA Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director and CEO. “We are grateful to have had this opportunity to collaborate with the Toledo Black Artist Coalition and are excited to continue centering historically marginalized voices in our work.”

While the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on Jan. 1, 1863, the U.S. Congress did not pass the 13th Amendment of the Constitution that legally ended slavery until Jan. 31, 1865. It was not until June 19, 1865, that enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, would learn of their freedom. Celebrations date back to 1866 observing this significant milestone in U.S. history.

TMA and TBAC seek to bring more awareness through this partnership. Founded in the summer of 2020, TBAC’s mission is focused on creating avenues of artistic agency through advocacy, education and activism. “As artists of color and allies, we are investing in our collective value. Our hope is that our work will benefit future generations,” said Yusuf Lateef, a TBAC spokesperson. Lateef added that the Coalition is a new wave formed within the context of the current national and international movement to heal a nation traumatized by the effects of white supremacy. He said their goal is “to create pathways for artists of color and work with Toledo cultural institutions to collectively combat racial inequality.” TMA is committed to implementing a culture of belonging with TBAC and other community organizations.

This year’s event was thoughtfully planned as a virtual experience by TMA and TBAC respecting Ohio’s COVID restrictions. However, after seeking input from TBAC, other community groups and TMA members, TMA officials would like to help explore and plan the return of a larger in-person Juneteenth celebration for summer 2022.