When it comes to her Black Lives Matter art show, artist and organizer Carla Cubit has one goal: “Get people to wake up.”
For years, Cubit has orchestrated exhibitions and performances around social justice themes ― themes she believes are often overlooked by the mainstream art world. Her first undertaking, “Occupy Art,” took place in 2011 during Occupy Wall Street at the Lower East Side’s Theater for the New City. Cubit, who herself crafts mixed-media assemblage sculptures using found and discarded objects, invited poets and performers to participate in the pop-up political event.
More recently, Cubit’s shows have revolved around Black Lives Matter, addressing issues related to police brutality and the private prison industry while providing a safe space for thoughtful discussion, expression and community.
“The political climate has changed but I’m still interested in the same social justice themes,” Cubit told The Huffington Post. “Open the discussion, get people aware of what’s going on in the world around them. Wake people up to injustice.”
Much of Cubit’s programming for the pop-up exhibition is interactive, meaning the show won’t fully take shape until viewers show up and participate. In the past, the artist hung banners on the gallery walls with statements including, “Your Thoughts on Black Lives Matter,” inviting visitors to share their perspectives with their community. Responses included, “Focus on the progress ― not hate: otherwise, they win” and “Love your blackness,” with some comments sparking full conversations that blossomed on the gallery walls.
Cubit’s upcoming show will feature a talk from Monica Octavia of the Museum of Impact, billed as the world’s first social justice museum, as well as a jam session featuring Welf Dorr of Underground Horns, Ras Moshe Burnett and Kenny Wollesen. Cubit will also open the stage to other poets and performers interested in participating in the evening’s events; all they need to do is show up.
The event is free for all attendees, but the artist will be selling handmade jewelry with messages like “Black Lives Matter” and “Not My President” for $1 each. Posters from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network will also be available at no cost.
For many, the time to support local organizations advocating for racial justice and artistic expression is now. As Cubit put it, the show offers a chance for viewers “to see things other than pretty flowers and trees in the contemporary art world. Something that makes a statement.”
“Black Lives Matter Art Show” will take place Tuesday, Jan. 31, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Living Gallery in Brooklyn.