The DuSable Museum of African American History

“AfriCOBRA: Art & Impact – Behind the Canvas”

“AfriCOBRA: Art & Impact – Behind the Canvas”

In Chicago 1968, a group of artists came together and began to define a uniquely black aesthetic in visual arts. They sought to make art that spoke directly to the needs, aspirations and experiences of black America, and that celebrated what was beautiful and heroic about black culture.

This is a FREE event. For more information, call 773-947-0600 ext. 254.

Speaker Bios

Raymond Thomas
Artist and former art director at Ebony Magazine John H. Johnson, the legendary founder of Johnson Publishing Co. and Ebony Magazine, hired Raymond right out of the Art Institute of Chicago and he designed layouts for Ebony and worked his way up through the company. As he matured professionally, his personal art also blossomed and matured.  A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Thomas, who serves on the board of the South Side Community Art Center, is also an international award-winning filmmaker and former longtime art director for Ebony Magazine.

Dayo Laoye
Adedayo was born to the royal family of Oba Adetoyese Laoye, The Timi of Ede. This famous Yoruba King toured throughout Europe in the 1960’s with the traditional Yoruba talking drum and instilled in Dayo a strong belief and conviction for this culture and traditional values.With the support of his parents, Dayo was able to spend his childhood pursuing his strong interest in art and drawing. Dayo later worked on portraiture using as subjects his fellow students, teachers, and special guest to the school. A graduate of School of Fine Art, Yaba College of Technology, he worked for the Nigerian Television Authority, various advertising agencies as a graphic artist and two national newspaper as a political cartoonist. In 1988 while studying at Howard University, Washington, D.C., he became acquainted with contemporary African-American art and its search for a link with the past. It was during this time that Dayo began to explore the very meaning of the tradition in which he was born. Much of Dayo’s work, therefore reflects his Yoruba tradition. He is currently working on a series of paintings – The People’s Choice – inspired by the political process going on in America today. Also, he is working on a series of paintings – Negritude – celebrating the diversity of beauty in the African-American culture.

Rahmaan Statik Barnes
Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, surrounded by urban art and public murals, I became inspired to be involved with the subculture of urban graffiti. A consequent arrest for “vandalism” put me on a mission to legitimize the production of aerosol murals. This became the main focus of my work: public murals that fuse the graffiti aesthetic with a classical training received from the American Academy of Art. As co-founder of RK Design, a graphic arts and mural company, I have produced over 200 murals, multiple CD covers, book illustrations and logo designs. Through the Chicago Public Art Group, as well as Gallery 37, I have instructed children in mural painting techniques, as well as mentored young artists in their craft. I currently work out of my studio in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, where in addition to pieces created in oil, acrylic, graphite, pen & ink, pastels, mosaic tile, spray paint and digital media, I am developing an instructional video on large-scale aerosol pieces.

Napoleon Jones-Henderson
Napoleon Jones-Henderson was born in Chicago in 1943. He was awarded a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1971, and pursued graduate studies at Northern Illinois University in 1974. In 2005, he received a MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art. He has been an active member of AfriCOBRA since 1969 and is the longest standing member of the group. During the formative years of AfriCOBRA, Jones-Henderson created large pictorial weavings that were included in the group’s important series of exhibitions mounted at the Studio Museum in Harlem in the early 1970s. He has taught in the art departments of several American institutions, including Malcolm X College in Chicago, Massachusetts College of Art, Emerson College in Boston and Benedict College in Columbia, SC.“My work in its essence is spiritual; meaning-full. We must be about the business of expressing what is beautiful; ourselves.”

Nelson Stevens
Nelson Steven’s art is a reflection of elements both physical and spiritual which have their grounding in the African-American experience. His rhythmical, multi-layered reassemble of form and color can be likened to the quality of syncretism inherent in most aspects of our African-American culture.  Stevens received a B.F.A. in Painting from Ohio University in 1962, and an M.F.A. in Studio Art/Art History from Kent State University in 1969. He has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses, including Drawing, Printmaking, African American Art History and Publication Production and Design.  He has exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New
York, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, and Howard University among others, and his work may be found in many private and public collections, including the Smithsonian, The Schaumberg Library and Research Center in New York, and the Chicago Institute of Art.  He is currently an active member of AfriCOBRA.


The AFRICOBRA Gallery Talk on August 8th
Gallery Talk

  • Arlene Crawford
  • Robert Douglas


AFRICOBRA closing ceremony on September 29th
Closing Reception (Contemporary Response)

  • Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago
  • Avery Young
  • M’Reld Green
  • Aniba Hotep & the Sol Collective
  • Nevada Montgomery
  • Masequa Myers


click below

AFRICOBRA_event listing

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