With larger historical narratives often as a driving force, Lubaina Himid’s works critique the consequences of colonialism and question the invisibility of people of color in the arts and the media.
A pioneer of the British Black Arts Movement of the 1980s and ’90s, Himid has long championed marginalized histories. Bright, graphic, and rich in color and symbolic referents, her images recall history paintings and eighteenth-century British satirical cartoons. In many works, the presence of language and poetry – sometimes drawn from the work of writers such as Audre Lorde, Essex Hemphill, or James Baldwin – punctuates the silence of her images with commands, instructions, or utterances that are at once stark and tender. The exhibition’s title, Work from Underneath, borrows from the dictums of health and safety manuals but doubles as a subversive proclamation. With the sculptures, paintings, textiles, and sound works that comprise the exhibition, Himid examines how language and architecture generate a sense of danger or safety, fragility, or stability.