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New Museum Exhibit Celebrates Black Artist Collectives

The Museum of Sonoma County exhibition spotlights how working in community with other artists can amplify Black voices, expand their artistic practices and nurture their spirits.

The Museum of Sonoma County in downtown Santa Rosa makes waves this summer with the commission of a bold new show that honors the work of Black artist collectives in the Bay Area. Lucia Olubunmi Momoh, a curator and scholar currently with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, developed the show with Ashara Ekundayo, who works with the Museum of the African Diaspora and Black [Space] Residency in San Francisco.

The exhibition spotlights how working in community with other artists can amplify Black voices, expand their artistic practices and nurture their spirits. San Francisco artist Cheryl Derricotte, an emeritus member of Three Point Nine Art Collective, says creating art as part of a collective provided a sense of safety and familiarity.

“I think that it’s important as a society for us to recognize that there is work we can do in community that should be uplifted,” says Derricotte. “I think the pandemic has really elevated our need for all of us to see each other in community, as part of an ecosystem — for everyone’s well-being.”

Cheryl Derricotte, How I Crossed Over, 2021.

Derricotte contributed a piece to the exhibition that celebrates Mary Ellen Pleasant, a prominent 19th-century Black entrepreneur and abolitionist with deep ties to Sonoma Valley. Pleasant, one of the first Black millionaires, owned several businesses in San Francisco around the time of the Gold Rush, and later moved to Sonoma Valley to build the landmark house at Beltane Ranch in Glen Ellen. Pleasant was likely one of just a handful of Black women living in Sonoma Valley in the mid-to-late 19th century. In conjunction with the show, Derricotte plans to lead a museum talk and field trip to Beltane Ranch in August.

The multimedia show, including works on paper, photography, sculpture, video and more, is on view at the Museum of Sonoma County through Nov. 27. 425 Seventh St., Santa Rosa. 707-579-1500, museumsc.org

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