Visionary Aponte: Art & Black Freedom takes as its point of departure an extraordinary - and now lost - historical artifact: a "Book of Paintings" created by José Antonio Aponte.
Aponte was a free black carpenter, artist, and former soldier who was also the leader of an ambitious antislavery movement in Cuba during the Age of Revolution.
During his trial, Aponte was forced to provide testimony describing each of the pictures in his book, which portrayed a wide array of subjects, from Biblical scenes to landscapes to episodes in the history of Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Using those descriptions, contemporary artists working in painting, drawing, sculpture, video, mixed media, and textile have reimagined Aponte's book.
Visionary Aponte: Art & Black Freedom is a nine-week art exhibit based on a digital humanities project called Digital Aponte. The exhibit and the conversations, screenings, performances, residencies, and workshops that accompany it are organized by the Power Plant Gallery and the Forum for Scholars and Publics.The Power Plant Gallery is an initiative of the Center for Documentary Studies and the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke University. The Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke is a place where scholars and various publics - local, national, and global - can interact and intersect to generate greater exchange between the university and the broader world.