AfriCobra exhibit turns to recent contributors

Assistant to the Editor

The DuSable Museum of African American History will on July 26 open the final exhibit in a three-part show on the South Side artist collective AfriCobra, also known as the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists.

Located at 740 E. 56th Pl., “AfriCobra: Art and Impact,” which includes at least 60 pieces of art, is part of a wider exhibition on the group that has also taken place at the Logan Center, 915 E. 60th St., and the South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave.

Unlike the series’ other shows, which examined AfriCobra’s origins and philosophy, the DuSable Museum exhibit will focus on the work of later group members, such as painters Dr. Murray DePillars and James Phillips and photographer Adger Cowens.

Exhibit curator and Chicago-based artist Arlene Crawford is a current member of the African American female artist collective Sapphire and Crystals and a former art educator with a degree in art education from Indiana University. She has been curating the exhibit since January.

“In a nutshell, it was an honor. I have a real passion for my work and art and the people who have basically been the inspiration and the grounding of me as an artist are AfriCobra members,” Crawford said.

Crawford said she met several AfriCobra members while an undergrad majoring in art at Northern Illinois University, including Nelson Stevens, a printmaker and painter with whom she studied.

The curator said AfriCobra “set the stage for my work,” adding that she “embraced their concept that art should be committed, collective, it should identify, define or direct.”

Crawford’s show will feature short videos on topics such as AfriCobra’s origins and the influence of music and women on the group’s artists as well as art from the curator’s personal collection, including a mixed-media painting and collage she made herself, “Impressions of a Drum.”

Founded on the South Side of Chicago in 1968, AfriCobra was a part of the ongoing Black Arts and Black Power movements.

“It was an embracing of our heritage, our culture, our cries for self-determination and empowerment,” Crawford said.

The show will kick off with an opening reception on July 26 and will include an Aug. 8 gallery talk by Crawford and Sept. 29 closing ceremony.

For more information about the exhibit, visit or call the museum at 773-997-0606.