Pictured here are two women caught in a dust cloud in 1950s Mexico City. This work — on view in “Portraits and Other Likenesses” beginning May 8th! — is technically a documentary-style street photograph, but there’s something about it that feels like portraiture. Is this a portrait of a natural phenomenon, a portrait of two women, a portrait of Mexico City in the 50s? #PortraitsRedefined

[Rodrigo Moya, “Polvareda, Ciudad de México (Dust Cloud, Mexico City)” (1958)]

The application of African prints to Victorian dresses is a stunning mashup. FYI Dutch traders brought Indonesian prints to Africa and the patterns morphed from there. #moad #museum #gallerycrawl #yerbabuena (at Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD))

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This vibrant collage is a portrait of artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby on her wedding day, kneeling in traditional Nigerian clothing before her American husband-to-be. Akunyili Crosby depicts a moment between two cultures coming together, a common theme in her work. See it next month! “Portraits and Other Likenesses from SFMOMA,” opens May 8th at MoAD →

[Njideka Akunyili Crosby, “Wedding Portrait” (2012)] #PortraitsRedefined 


Weight converged with the news and my own personal experience,” Saar says in a phone interview from her home in Los Angeles. “I’d done a show called ‘Still…’ that was a response to all of the hatred, especially now that all of that is so easily accessible on the internet and social media. It got me angry and discouraged and frightened. So I had started creating pieces that were a response to that. Obama’s election opened up this whole flood [of racism]. Weight was really a response to working at this art [in a] high school, and these students were really phenomenal. Many of them got scholarships, but they couldn’t do it because they didn’t have the money, or they had to help support their family. This was a high school that works with lower-income families in downtown Los Angeles. It broke my heart that they’re still expected to be housekeepers like their mothers or laborers like their fathers. We think we’ve moved beyond that, and we haven’t." 

Read a recent SF Weekly review of Alison Saar’s exhibition at Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), on view through April 3, 2016.

IMAGE: Alison Saar, Weight, 2012, wood, rope, cotton scale and miscellaneous objects, 72 x 78 x 24 in. (182.9 x 198.1 x 61 cm)

A visitor looks at Un Coq pour Chango (A Rooster for Shango) [which was formerly titled L'Oracle et l'oiseau vert (The Oracle and the Green Bird)] currently on the go at MoAD for Portraits and Other Likenesses from SFMOMA. 

In this 1947 painting, you can see how artist Wifredo Lam mixed cubism and surrealism to define his style, which incorporated mythological elements and totemism (the belief that humans have a kinship with another being, such as an animal or plant). Looking at the imagery and thinking about the title(s), what do you think is going on in this painting?

To see more from the show, check out #PortraitsRedefined on Tumblr and Instagram.


The Museum of African Diaspora has a compelling exhibition in conjunction with SF MoMA to Go - “Portraits and Other Likeness” - that demonstrates how artists interested in issues of identity redefine what it means to make a portrait. The 50+ works include Nick Cave, Chris Ofili, Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley  and Kara Walker to name a few.

Photographer Dawoud Bey says that a portrait, such as this one, “is as much about the photographer as it is about the subject … I as the photographer recognize some aspect of myself in the person I am photographing.” What do you think? How much of a portrait is about the subject, the photographer, and even the viewer?

Currently on the go at MoAD for Portraits and Other Likenesses from SFMOMA

[Dawoud Bey, A Young Man in a Bandana and Swimming Trunks, Rochester, New York (1989)] Currently on view.

#‎PortraitsRedefined‬ ‬