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Napoleon Jones-Henderson: I Am As I Am


Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston / Art

In 1969, while finishing his B.F.A. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Napoleon Jones-Henderson joined a newly formed local art collective: the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists, or AfriCOBRA. At its regular meetings, the group attempted to define “black aesthetic.” It didn’t want to just make art but to create images that united members of the African Diaspora. With AfriCOBRA, Jones-Henderson made massive tapestries in bright colors. In 1974, he left Chicago to teach in Boston, where he expanded on AfriCOBRA principles in his own work. Exploring racial justice and Pan-Africanism, Jones-Henderson’s art—which ranges from graphic-style sculptures to colorful tile mosaics to drawings to textiles—looks toward the future while remaining grounded in the past. In Boston’s most comprehensive museum show of Jones-Henderson’s work, the I.C.A. surveys his 50-year career. —J.D.

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