The San Bernardino County Museum will present a new exhibit, Contradictions – Bringing the Past Forward by artist Barbara Gothard, from January 14 to April 10. The exhibit is a multimedia arts and humanities research project comprised of mixed media installation works, and interprets the plight of early 20th-century African-American settlers in the Mojave Desert. The series focuses on the stories of the Homesteaders and the contradictions of Gotthard’s own desert experience.
While searching for information on a different topic, Gothard came across a Daily Bulletin article by journalist Joe Blackstock, also a county museum volunteer, about African American Homesteaders, which included a 1910 Los Angeles Herald ad. In response to this 1910 newspaper ad specifically recruiting “colored” settlers, 23 families became Western settlers in far eastern San Bernardino County. This article became the driving force behind the Gothard project, Contradictions – Bringing the Past Forward.
During his artist residency at BoxoPROJECTS in November, Gothard continued to develop his innovative concept of creating twenty-three digital paintings on his iPad and printing them on raw linen canvas. Each work of art interprets the story of one of these African American settlers and forms the basis of its programs for the community, contrasting their plight against the backdrop of her own lived experience as a living African American artist. in the desert. The project operates through a framework of change and continuity, diversity, cause and effect, interdependence, community, identity and belonging within the context of social, political, economic, cultural and environmental factors that prevailed in the early 20th century in the United States. . The Contradictions – Bringing the Past Forward project explores themes of hope, disillusionment and strong family ties based on archival research and interviews.
Melissa Russo, director of the San Bernardino County Museum, said: “I discovered for the first time
Barbara’s work in 2018, when her piece was featured in the Museum’s group exhibition Life in the Cracks. When Barbara brought this on-going project to our attention, we immediately recognized the great value of her research and knew there would be a public fascination with this intersection of regional history and art. It’s truly innovative storytelling, and we’re excited to help promote its interpretations through this exhibition.
Artist Gothard said: “As I have made presentations over the past year on my works interpreting the stories of these African-American settlers and developed the works during my residency at BOXOProjects, it has become of increasingly clear that their stories needed to be brought to the fore. I am delighted that the museum shares their experiences and stories throughout my creative journey.
The San Bernardino County Museum is located at 2024 Orange Tree Lane, off California Street from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit www.sbcounty.gov/museum.