Davidson Taylor, a public-relations professional working with the Zora Neale Hurston Festival in Eatonville, wrote this story about the "Question Bridge: Black Males" exhibition, on view as part of the Zora! Festival.
The festival is running through Feb. 3, with the big Outdoor Festival of the Arts taking place this weekend.
The "Question Bridge: Black Males" exhibition, at the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, has special events taking place this weekend, too. The museum, known as the Hurston, is at 227 E. Kennedy Blvd., Eatonville.
Here's an edited version of Taylor's write-up:
EATONVILLE — The works of many artists challenge who we are and where we are going.
"Question Bridge: Black Males" goes a step further by offering a transmedia conversation among black men who address those questions and a lot more.
A five-channel video installation, "Question Bridge: Black Males" was created by artists Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair.
The artists traveled the nation collecting a video catalogue of 1,500 questions and answers from more than 150 black men in 12 cities: New Orleans; New York; Philadelphia; Miami; Chicago; Birmingham, Ala.; Atlanta; Fayetteville, Ga.; and the California cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Mountain View and San Bruno.
These questions and separately filmed answers were then interwoven to create a stream-of-consciousness "megalogue" around issues such as family, love, interracial relationships, community, education, violence, and the past and the future of black men in American society. Surprising insights emerge from the installation's exchanges.
The questions raised and discussed in "Question Bridge: Black Males" need to be addressed in order for black men to move forward, says Lonnie Graham, resident curator at The Hurston.
The future of black males is of particular concern today, especially locally, with the public interest in the 2012 deadly shootings of unarmed black teens Trayvon Martin in Sanford and Jordan Davis in Jacksonville.
Those killings make "Question Bridge: Black Males" all the more relevant to festivalgoers, says N.Y. Nathiri, the director of multidisciplinary programs for the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, the nonprofit historic preservation group that organizes the Zora! Festival.
Now in its 24th year, the multidisciplinary Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities runs until Feb. 3. The festival celebrates the life and work of 20th century writer, folklorist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston; her hometown, Eatonville; and the cultural contributions people of African ancestry have made to the United States and the world.
Attracting tens of thousands of locals and tourists to Orange County, Zora! Festival presents arts, humanities and cultural programming including independent films, festival favorite HATitude, educational programming presented by University of Central Florida's College of Medicine and the Orlando Science Center, public talks, panel discussions, workshops and concerts.
The festival culminates with a three-day weekend Outdoor Festival of the Arts, featuring children's programming, such as the Zora! Literacy Initiative and "Fabulous Foods Demonstrations" by Celebrity Chef Marvin Woods; guest artist-in-residence Charles Bibbs; an African Diaspora Pavilion; a Caribbean Village; an International Marketplace; a Health Village; food trucks and more.
Admission to the Outdoor Festival of the Arts, Feb. 1-3, is free for ages 17 and younger. Adults will be able to enter the Outdoor Festival of the Arts by making a cash donation.
There will be an opening reception and gallery talk about "Question Bridge: Black Males" from 6 - 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at The Hurston, 227 E. Kennedy Blvd., Eatonville. It's free and open to the public, though there is limited seating. RSVP required at 407-647-3307.
Also planned is a "Question Bridge: Black Males" talk-back session with presenter Hank Willis Thomas, an installation visual artist and photographer. The talk-back session will be 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at The Denton Johnson Community Center, 400 E. Ruffel St., Eatonville.
It is also free and open to the public.