Black Thought: Streams of Thought
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Concert Review, Black Thought: Streams of Thought With special guest Titus Kapha

Legendary group, The Roots, continued their residency at the world-renowned Kennedy Center on February 18 when Black Thought: Streams of Thought returned. This time the featured special guest was artist Titus Kaphar.

Streams of Thought is Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter’s conversation series encompassing art, inspiration, and creative consciousness. Hearing about the event, I looked forward to the conversation between renowned visual artist and 2018 MacArthur Fellow Titus Kaphar and acclaimed lyricist/writer/composer. Kaphar and Mallis’ short documentary SHUT UP, AND PAINT was also screened. The film’s plot finds Kaphar searching for a suitable medium for his art in the face of a market that seeks to silence him.

Using formal innovations, Titus Kaphar’s paintings, sculptures, and installations examine the history of representation. He seeks to dislodge history from its status as the “past” to reveal its relevance today. In this way, the canvas and materials are highlighted as physical and dimensional. His paintings and sculptures are cut, crumpled, shrouded, shredded, stitched, tarred, twisted, bound, erased, broken, torn, and turned. By reconfiguring them, he reveals unspoken truths about history.

In addition to his MFA from Yale School of Art, Kaphar has received numerous awards and prizes. In addition to a MacArthur Fellowship in 2018, a grant from the Art for Justice Fund in 2018, a Rauschenberg grant in 2016, and a Creative Capital grant in 2015. TIME’s June 15, 2020 issue featured his work Analogous Colors. He has moved beyond traditional artistic expression due to his commitment to social engagement. Through education and access, he established NXTHVN, an innovative national arts model.

Simon Eckleson set the evening up with boisterous energy before introducing Black Thought, who commanded the stage with a laid-back but grown man swagger. His conversation with Titus was engaging as both men shared passionate background stories about the art world. Titus passionately spoke about his journey, and one of the highlights involved the man on the one-dollar bill.

Titus painted a piece about George Washington called Liberty of Shadows of Liberty and its ties to his own lineage. He also delved into elaborate detail about how cutthroat the business is and how you should never compromise your voice.

The night’s highlight for me was Titus revealing a film in the works about his life. Andre Holland is slated to portray him. Overall, it was a fun night, and I look forward to more work from both men.


Final Grade: A

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