Art That Honors Juneteenth — Four Must-See Exhibitions in Houston That Will Make You Think

These Powerful Works Bring a Social Conscience

BY Catherine D. Anspon // 06.18.22

A quartet of Houston art shows are honoring the meaning and message of Juneteenth as they address the African diaspora. 

Coup for CAMH

The much anticipated “Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks” arrives at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, co-organized by the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, where the show unveiled last October.

The exhibition marks the artist’s CAMH debut with a site-specific mural created just for Houston audiences.

Amoako Boafo’s “Reflection I” (detail), 2018, at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (Image and work courtesy Roberts Projects, Los Angeles and private collection; photo Robert Wedemeyer)
Amoako Boafo’s Reflection I (detail), 2018, at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (Image and work courtesy Roberts Projects, Los Angeles and private collection; photo Robert Wedemeyer)

Amoako Boafo, who lives between his birthplace of Accra (the capital city of Ghana) and Vienna, is one of the most prescient contemporary painters, as well as an art-market wunderkind well-represented in top Houston collector Lester Marks’ holdings.

The painter’s figurative canvases celebrate the dignity and joy of his Black subjects and are regularly sold for seven figures at global auctions.

Ghana-American cultural critic Larry Ossei-Mensah, co-founder of the nonprofit ArtNoir, guest-curates this new exhibition. It runs through October 2 at CAMH.

Identity in the Lens

At Houston Museum of African American Culture, guest curator/writer Lise Ragbir organizes an exhibition for Dallas photographer Hakeem Adewumi, who balances his mother’s Black American culture with his father’s Nigerian heritage. (See Hakeem Adewumi’s 2021 Juneteenth House project here.) 

Hakeem Adewumi’s The Next Kingship Belongs to Us, 2022, at Houston Museum of African American Culture (Courtesy the artist and HMAAC)

In this solo “Bastard of the Diaspora” exhibition, Adewumi’s portraits examine mutable iterations of identity. Specifically, his lens focuses on Black queerness, the first time works by a queer artist have graced Houston Museum of African American Culture’s walls, museum CEO John Guess Jr. notes. It runs through June 18 at Houston Museum of African American Culture.

Quilting Bee

Concurrent with its own 20th anniversary, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft salutes the 35th anniversary of a fellow nonprofit: Community Artists Collective, which was co-founded by Michelle Barnes and Dr. Sarah Trotty.

On view at the Craft Center, curated by Kathryn Hall and Cydney Elaine Pickens, is a jubilant look at The Collective’s Jubilee Quilt Circle and the rich legacy of African-American quilting.

Hastle Dean Murray’s Juneteenth (detail), 2019, at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (Courtesy HCCC)

Included is Michelle Barnes’ own Hope quilt. This quilt was crafted over a 30-year span, which its maker sees as a metaphor for stitching creativity, connectivity and community. This exhibition runs through September 10 at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

Social Conscience

You can also encounter the multilayered, often nature-based work of Hugh Hayden at Blaffer Art Museum. Trained as an architect, the Columbia and Cornell grad returns to Texas (Hayden was born in Dallas in 1983) to comment upon the American dream in “Boogey Man,” which travels to the University of Houston campus following its debut last November at ICA Miami.

“Hugh Hayden: Boogey Men” as installed at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. The exhibition is now on view at the Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston. (Courtesy Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; photo Zachary Balber)

The Blaffer’s Tyler Blackwell organizes its presentation here, which speaks to issues as diverse as police brutality, family trees, the primacy of ancestors, and the jazz and soul food of the Louisiana Gulf coast, where the maternal side of Hayden’s family hails from. It runs through August 21 at The Blaffer.

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