Contemporary and historical imagery combine in the orange-soaked acrylic paintings and hand-selected silkscreens in artist Knowledge Bennett's Orange is the New Black exhibition. As a means of representing black history in America, the LA based artist applies a street art methodology to explore the African diaspora and chronologically record the unfair treatment of black Americans by law enforcement and the federal government from the 1930s on.
Images of civil rights leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. are displayed alongside portraits of former FBI director J Edgar Hoover and President Nixon. The cover of newspapers and magazine articles trace the ongoing presence of racism within a historical timeline. Headlines like ‘Tortured By Cops’ and ‘Cops Fired 41 Shots’ appear on what the artist calls “prison jumpsuit orange” canvases. The show also tackles more recent political news in paintings like Bennett’s Warholian Mao/Trump piece.
Bennett says his work is like, “a magnifying glass, placed directly over the long term relationship between the American Government and the Black Community. A relationship where corruption, oppression, and systematic disenfranchisement is all too familiar.”