CLEVELAND (WJW)- You can find art in some of the most unexpected places in and around Cleveland and more often than before the art showcases people of color. It’s part of a growing shift to become more inclusive also happening in the art world.


 At the Cleveland Museum of Art a new exhibition called Currents and Constellations: Black Art in Focus will display the work of Black artists who the museum identifies as both embracing and challenging art history

“It is really meant to be an exploration of ideas and concepts that Black artists have been thinking through, grappling with, expressing over time,” said Key Jo Lee, Director of Academic Affairs and Associate Curator of Special Projects at the museum. “Putting them all together to show that Black art is not one thing.”


The exhibition will feature works from the museum’s permanent collection, in addition to displaying the art of emerging and mid-career artists.

“The ways that things were judged were based on a Eurocentric view on what is good and valuable,” said Lee. “A lot of Black and brown identities are erased hidden…economic disparities, educational disparities impacted Black folks’ entry into those spaces can’t be underestimated.”

It’s something artist Darius Steward knows all too well.


“When I was in school at the institute of art, I came here plenty of times and I didn’t see a lot of work that was showcasing people like me,” he said.

Steward is former program manager at the museum. His work will be on display at the exhibition.


“It’s been a dream for me to be a part of CMA,” said Steward. “Me being a Black artist, born and raised in East Cleveland that lived under the poverty line for a long time I think my perspective and what I deem as art worthy is different than most people that were in here working or creating these exhibits at the time.”


Lee said the exhibition will help illuminate the works of Black artists and hopefully broaden the idea among visitors about what Black art is and can be.


“When I ask visitors, if we’re standing in a space and I ask them to identify what work is by a Black artist,” she said. “If there isn’t a Black figure in it or if the name isn’t somehow ethnic, whatever that might mean to them, then the baseline assumption is that it’s made by a white male artist.”


Currents and Constellations is a free exhibition on display through June 26. For Black artists like Steward historically shut out of showcasing their art in prestigious museums it’s a dream for their work to now be on display.


“I do feel like the more comfortable we get with the Black experience and the more comfortable we get with what Black artists have to say we’ll start to see more of a variety in more areas, places like this,” said Steward.