We live in tumultuous times. It's astounding to hear people on the fringes say that racism is over, that the Civil Rights Movement was a straight success, and — since we had a black president — we're past the tension, fear and hatred that drove millions of black activists to protest, fight and campaign for their lives in the '60s. One look at the day's news is enough to drive the point home: We are not past racism as a society, not by a long shot, and there's still a great deal of work to be done.
The art exhibit opening at GOCA 121 this weekend is more than just a series of paintings. It's a statement that speaks to the insurmountable strength of African-American people. The Black Power Tarot celebrates the journey of African-Americans by using the likenesses of African-American icons to represent and directly invoke the major arcana of the Tarot de Marseilles, one of the most famous tarot decks in existence, which first incorporated the symbolism and sacred geometry that all modern decks draw from.
Arish Ahmad Khan, also known as King Khan, is the man behind the exhibit. He says, "The concept of Black Power is about giving 'all power to all the people.' I wanted to blend this into the idea that these cards give anyone who wishes to learn this language the power to control their own destiny and follow a path of illumination and enlightenment."
This musician, producer, writer and artist was inspired to create his own tarot deck while working on the score for the documentary film The Invaders. That film, screening tonight at CC's Cornerstone Arts Center, is the first of several events that will take place surrounding The Black Power Tarot exhibit and its theme. The Invaders follows the story of a militant Black Power group in Memphis in the '60s, and features interviews with former members and other Civil Rights activists. The group, composed mostly of college students and Vietnam veterans, had begun working with Martin Luther King Jr. shortly before he was assassinated, so it's a rare glimpse into the before and after of a group that became folk heroes to the city's black community.
The screening will be followed by what promises to be an enlightening discussion with King Khan, filmmaker John B. Smith and local activist, writer and educator Idris Goodwin.
Since we can't hype up this exhibit enough, we also recommend you check out the opening reception at GOCA 121 on Friday (Jan. 13, 5-9 p.m.). There will be artist talks, food provided by Nosh, and live tarot readings, plus the exhibit itself to enjoy.
7 p.m., CC's Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., free, 255-3504.