Why is the light on these artworks so much darker than the light on other art in this gallery?
You're very perceptive. Works on paper, like these prints (watercolors would also fall into this category) are very sensitive to light and fade very easily. The light is kept low to help preserve the artworks. Works on paper cannot be exposed to light for long periods of time either. After this exhibition they will be returned to dark storage to "rest."
Okay. Thank you. I noticed the dresses are displayed nearby. Does fabric have the same light issues?
Textiles do share a lot of the same concerns. Temperature and humidity are also major considerations.
What is this cross?
This cross-like symbol is called an ankh and it originated in ancient Egypt where it was a symbol of life. It was adopted by the Black Power Movement mostly as a sign of their connection to Africa.
I'd like to know more about this work of art and the printmaking-as-protest movement.
As a part of the new aesthetic of the Black Arts Movement, artists incorporated African cultural imagery using "Cool Ade" colors, named after the popular drink, to attract and relate to audiences comprised of community members and everyday people. Coupled with a social message, printmaking became a fast and relatively inexpensive way to disseminate political messaging. As these artist weren't necessarily institutionally supported at the time they found other means of exposure.
Posters were not only easy to mass produce, but also easy to consume. This was affordable art that was available at exhibitions, book stores, galleries, and art fairs for $10 leading to a quick and wide distribution of the images.
Who is the artist behind this piece?
The artist behind this piece is Barbara Jones-Hogu. Jones-Hogu was part of the AfriCOBRA coalition, a group who used bright colors and accessible printmaking techniques in their work, which focused, among other things, on concepts of community.