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‘Dig the Diversity in Unity’: AfriCOBRA’s Black Family

Rebecca Zorach looks at the collective practice of AfriCOBRA, a group of Chicago artists working in a Black Power idiom whose self-identification as a family’ complicates and extends the notion of ‘community’ art. Among the legacies of the political art of the late 1960s and early 70s in the United States was an expanded role for something that came to be called ‘community art’. Community art, in the sense of youth art workshops and neighbourhood art organisations, was not a new phenomenon. But its visibility increased with the production of large-scale public murals in US inner cities. These often unauthorised interventions into the visual landscape were inspired by the Mexican muralist movement and more immediately by Chicago’s Wall of Respect, a collective portrait of black heroes created in 1967 at 43rd Street and Langley Avenue on the city’s South Side.