No shade to some of the very fine sports-themed art shows we’ve seen at museums and big sports venues over the years, or to the myriad artists for whom athletics has been a muse — but the SoFi Stadium installation of the landmark Kinsey African American Art & History Collection and its augmentation with the expansive Residency Art Gallery-curated contemporary survey Continuum transcends the genre. Institutional in scope and scale, the pairing of a world-famous collection of art and cultural artifacts from Black history stretching from the 16th century to the modern day, with a survey of contemporary art by greater Los Angeles — and especially Inglewood-based artists of color — is nothing short of inspired. And its location at the brand new venue is as important for the community as it is meaningful for the Kinseys themselves.
In the early 1970s, Bernard and Shirley Kinsey were a young professional couple with a love of traveling and of art. Fifty years later, their museological library has become known the world over as The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection, generating traveling exhibitions touching 35 cities across the United States and internationally. Now after 15 years on the road, the collection is literally back home; its installation inside SoFi Stadium at Hollywood Park sits less than a mile from the Kinseys’ first family home. “It’s a full-circle moment for us,” Shirley Kinsey said during a tour of the exhibition, and it feels that way for a lot of folks.
It may be full circle for the Kinsey Family, but it’s the first of its kind for a venue like SoFi Stadium. Taking full advantage of the mezzanine architecture’s curving passageways and division into two wings off a central gathering area, the historical collection and contemporary survey occupy their own halls. Curated by Khalil Kinsey and historian Larry Earl, and encompassing everything from portraiture, photographs, sculptures, and civic records to uniforms, medals, awards, and accomplishments of historic firsts documenting the African American experience and illuminating stories of Black excellence across U.S. history, the collection begins to reach into the contemporary era at the building’s midway point, with fulcrums like the work of Charles White, Romare Bearden, and Ernie Barnes holding the center.
For the purposes of this installation, and thoughtfully responding to place, Inglewood’s Residency Art Gallery picks up its curation — deftly enacted by Khalil Kinsey (chief curator, The Kinsey Collection) and Rick Garzon (founder/director, Residency Art Gallery) — right at that cusp, with the aptly named Continuum lighting up the mirroring side of the space with a vibrant, eclectic look at recent art history and current practices in salient visual art whose roots are firmly planted in the history viewers have just witnessed across the way. Together, the show fills some 100,000 square feet — and fills centuries of another kind of space as well.
With exciting works from more than 20 artists of color including Genevieve Gaignard, Patrick Martinez, Jaimie Milner, Lyndon Barrois Sr, Texas Isaiah, Samuel Levi Jones, Sharon Louise Barnes, Yasmine Nasser Diaz, Ever Velasquez, Halli Francis, Daniela Garcia Hamilton, Rashaun Rucker, Glenn Hardy Jr., and more, Continuum more than lives up to its intention of contextualizing the current moment in Los Angeles communities of color and African diasporic visual culture within the histories that preceded it.
“Understanding our history and seeing our own reflections in art inspires and empowers us all, and is critical to our shared experience and progress. Displaying the exhibition in Inglewood is extremely important to us because it invites the community to connect with their own stories of strength, brilliance, and beauty,” said the Kinsey family in a statement. And to that end, besides extended viewing hours and tour-package inclusions, outreach programs include field trips, school visits, art education, teacher workshops, and guest lectures. The collection also benefits the Hollywood Park Foundation, a nonprofit developing youth programs focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education, health, and wellness.
But beyond those kinds of targeted outreach plans, the hope here is that the exhibition will not only bring new audiences into dialogue with this tranche of art and culture by bringing it to them outside traditional art-focused venues, but also will encourage Inglewood stakeholders to feel more connected to their mammoth new neighbor. Already on display in Hollywood Park’s retail space — the “largest urban mixed-use mega development under construction in the Western United States,” according to press materials — are murals by three Los Angeles artists: Calida Rawles, Geoff McFetridge and Eve Fowler, with more on the way, along with a pair of bronze sculptures by Alison Saar, and a permanent on-site space for Residency Gallery.
With support from the Kroenke Family Foundation, the Kinseys’ own Foundation for Arts and Education, and the Hollywood Park Foundation/JPMorgan Chase, the two-part exhibition will occupy the big, bright hallways of the second level mezzanine through March. If you want to see the art without a game or concert ticket, it’s included as part of the SoFi Stadium tour packages, as well as for separately scheduled group tours. Or, just be ready to impress your sporty/rocker friends with your deep knowledge of the arts at the next big show.
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