This month, on the second floor of SoFi Stadium, visitors are welcomed by the arena’s administration and local art collectors the Kinsey family to a group presentation featuring 20 artists based in greater Los Angeles. Entitled Continuum, the show is a mix of historical and contemporary works from the Kinsey African American Art & History Collection and Residency Art Gallery. As the massive 70,000-seat home to two National Football League teams stands in Inglewood, a city that boasts a majority Black and Latin population, this is an exhibition that bridges cultural ties between the L.A. landmark and its surrounding community.
The Kinsey Collection, from philanthropists Shirley and Bernard Kinsey, represents one of the most comprehensive surveys of African American history and culture gathered over five decades. With this show, co-curators Khalil Kinsey and Rick Garzon provide a space for visitors to discover unique Black and Brown histories while celebrating existing impacts through artists engaging in diverse narratives.
Khalil Kinsey describes Continuum as a space that “strives to weave [Black heritage] into the fabric of public experiences as an integral thread to the American story and not a separate history.” He further iterates that the exhibition’s purpose is to “dispel the myth of absence [a concept coined by historian Lerone Bennett Jr.], which purposely removes significant Black presence and participation from the narrative of American history.”
Beginning with a robust selection of African American art and primary source historical artifacts, Continuum unearths stories of America’s past and opens it up for discussion. May Howard Jackson’s Bust of an African (original cast of a Slave Boy) (1899), is a bronze portrait of a stone-faced young man. A prominent intellectual and activist in the early 20th century, Jackson is considered one of the first Black female artists to use racial discrimination thematically. The display also features an original United States Supreme Court Report from 1857 of the Dred Scott Decision; this is the watershed case in which Scott, an enslaved man, sued unsuccessfully for his freedom and was deemed unsuitable for American citizenship. The outcome of this case, which said that citizenship was not meant for people of African descent, ushered a divided country into the Civil War. Ultimately, this led to the abolition of slavery with the introduction of the Thirteenth Amendment.
Further along in the exhibition, Bisa Butler’s Sea Island Woman (2006), a quilted portrait of a Black woman, stands out for its intricate weaving. Butler’s figure balances a basket on her head, tying in the visible and hidden labors endured by Black women. Photographer Texas Isaiah’s New World in My View (2021) is an intimate portrait of a lone figure’s back as they are overlooking a quiet, leafy body of water. Dressed in simple white overalls and a pearl necklace, the sitter becomes free from binary gender archetypes; black identities are not monoliths, and it is vital to have a broadened perspective.
Two neon works by artist Patrick Martinez and a triangular piece by artist Genevieve Gaignard radiate as slogans for the exhibition. Martinez’s Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate Only Love Can Do That (2021), is a glowing neon sign with text that references Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Strength to Love. Gaignard’s Black is Excellence (Plush) (2021), features emboldened text on a pink backdrop with doily flowers that epitomize Black pride. With these works, both artists express messages of unity with community, power, and upliftment.
Directly addressing SoFi Stadium’s Los Angeles Rams, 19 (2022), by Lyndon Barrois Sr., features nineteen miniatures that depict Black players from Rams history, including the legendary James “Shack” Harris with his iconic number 12 jersey. Made from chewing gum wrappers, the figurines line up in a lucite enclosed box, each with a magnifying glass. They appear frozen in time in various athletic positions, much like sports trading cards. By tying in Black sports history, Barrois’s piece highlights the incredible achievements of Black athletes.
In its curation, Continuum honors and shares a diverse body of work from local artists while allowing for close introspection in the presence of historical objects that showcase the resilience and progress of Black Americans. As the largest NFL complex in the United States, venues like SoFi Stadium must integrate surrounding communities and provide space to spotlight Black and Brown voices. While visiting SoFi Stadium, tour groups, local students, and the people working there took time to reflect on their history. The success of this exhibition is not only in pieces congregated. It’s in the way it makes people feel seen.
Continuum features the works of artists: Sharon Louise Barnes, Lyndon Barrois Sr., Victor Brown, Troy Lamarr Chew, Yasmine Nasser Diaz, Alanna Fields, Haili Francis, Genevieve Gaignard, Daniela Garcia Hamilton, Texas Isaiah, Samuel Levi Jones, Patrick Martinez, Jaimie Milner, Nikkolos Mohammed, Mike Reesé, Rashaun Rucker, SlauCienega, Ever Velasquez, Glenn Hardy Jr., George Evans, Joseph Sherman, and Rikki Wright.
The exhibit is part of SoFi Stadium tours, and tickets are available now at SoFiStadium.com/kinsey, starting at $39. Private, group and community tours are also available. Tours run weekly, Tuesday through Saturday, excluding event days, benefiting the Hollywood Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization that develops and supports local youth programs focused on STEAM, education, health, and wellness).
The Kroenke Family Foundation and JPMorgan Chase support this exhibition at SoFi Stadium by amplifying the Kinseys’ vision to keep history alive and relevant.
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