The Black American Artists Alliance of Richmond (BAAAR) is an art collective based in Richmond, Virginia. Back row from left: Sir James Thornhill, Philip Muzi Branch, Dennis Winston, Kyle Epps, and William E. Johnson. Front row from left: Unicia R. Buster, Vashti Woods, Barbara Hobson, and Yhayha A. Hargrove. Not pictured: Jowarnise, S. Ross Browne, David Marion, and Hamilton Glass. Photo courtesy of BAAAR.
“Artists create monuments and images that tell a people’s story.”
The Black American Artists Alliance of Richmond (BAAAR) is an art collective based in Richmond, Virginia. “We are thirteen awarding-winning artists committed to the codification of Black American art and the promotion of visual artists who chose to work in the genre,” Philip “Muzi” Branch, president and member of BAAAR, says. “The artist-members are dedicated to establishing aesthetic principles and socio-cultural themes that define Black American visual art, as well as the advancement of scholarly research concerning the same.”
Pacific Jazz by P. Muzi Branch
Flower of Life by Jowarnise Caston
From paintings and sculptures to woodblock print, collages, etchings, and quilts, all of BAAAR’s members call back to their African heritage and experiences as Americans. The collective’s art centers philosophically around the morality, aesthetics, and social and cultural ideas of Black Americans. “The visual voice of Black Americans is just as unique as Black American music, literature, theater, dance, and culture,” Muzi says.
The collective is working towards opening a center for the arts. The center will focus on nurturing and exhibiting Black art and will have an apprentice program for young people. Young people will have the opportunity to learn how to frame artwork, which includes learning how to cut the molding, mats, and glass so that their artwork fits perfectly into the frame.
Birth of a Nation by Sir James Thornhill
Another Way by Vashti Woods
BAAAR’s latest exhibit Stories & Histories: A Special Province is currently showing at the Baxter Perkinson Center for the Arts & Education. Center: 35% Nigerian, 91% African by Unicia R. Buster. On wall: Reach for the Sun #1 & #2 by Hamilton Glass. Photo by Unicia R. Buster.
BAAAR’s latest exhibit Stories & Histories: A Special Province is currently showing at the Baxter Perkinson Center for the Arts & Education. The exhibit runs until April 2, 2022. Muzi says each piece will thematically tell a story, show a historical event, or introduce a personality. The intention is to control the narrative of the history of Black Americans. “Historically, much of the record and cultural information about a group of people is documented by the artists of that culture,” Muzi says. “Artists created monuments and images that tell a people’s story. With the banning of factual history, removal of books and vigilante culture police in our schools, the members of BAAAR feel that it is a duty and an honor for us to truthfully and unapologetically create art that serves a purpose for Black Americans.” The message has never been louder.