Until March 03, 2024, the Museum of the African Diaspora hosts the exhibition titled in the name of contemporary artist Joe Sam, curated by Erin Jenoa Gilbert. A unique and immersive exhibition that will be presented for the first time at San Francisco’s MOAD. This artistic presentation from Joe Sam’s private and personal collections will feature a series of key works consisting of 20 mixed-media paintings created between 1985 and 2020 by the contemporary artist.
Joe Sam is a contemporary installation artist and painter. Born on August 17, 1938 in Harlem, New York, he uses his works to make political commentaries on the conditions of the black community. Multiple events have inspired and marked the contemporary artist in his work, including the Charlestone shootings and the LAPD beating of Rodney King, among others. These incidents are presented in Joe Sam’s creations without recalling the trauma and bloodiness of these past situations.
The New York artist charms his audience with colorful, intricate compositions based on everyday materials. He juxtaposes elements found on the streets of California to bring realism to these designs and guide the public towards a message he wishes to share. Materials such as plastic pipes, newspaper clippings, bicycle wheels, wooden blocks with archival images and cigarettes form a dissonant panorama of colors deliberately scattered across the canvas to serve as clues for deciphering his works.
A self-taught artist for over 40 years, Joe Sam first worked in education and youth empowerment before retiring in 1985 to devote himself fully to art. Since then, the contemporary artist has followed a long and winding artistic path, producing numerous works of art. Among these artistic designs, Joe Sam has produced works commissioned by such institutions as the San Francisco Mission Police Station Juvenile Facility, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Rosa Parks Metro Rail Station and the Sharks Ice Center in San Jose, California, and others for commercial purposes, including The Invisible Hunters (1987), which was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book; and album covers for Bobby McFerrin’s Medicine Man (1990); Bennie Maupin and Dr. Patrick Gleeson’s Driving (1990). Patrick Gleeson’s Driving While Black (1998); Upsurge’s All Hands-on Deck (2000) and Chromatology (2004).
The “Joe Sam” exhibition is a retrospective of the artist’s key works and moments over four decades. It’s an opportunity for art lovers to discover the work of contemporary artist Joe Sam in the Museum of the African Diaspora’s third-floor gallery.