On April 27th, 2022, Vice-Chair of the Smithsonian Art Museum, Robert C. Davidson Jr., led a virtual panel discussion called Open Doors: A Conversation of the Healing Power of Diversity in Art.
Revealing work from over two dozen Black artists, this exhibition is a timeless cross-generational project that shows a variety of contexts, both, socially and aesthetically.
The purpose of this panel was to commemorate Cedars-Sinai’s new art exhibition dedicated to showcasing Black artists. For generations, artists have referred to the work of their predecessors to serve as a blueprint guiding them toward new possibilities.
The idea for Open Doors began when Anne Burford-Johnson walked the halls of the Plaza Level while waiting for husband Chas F. Johnson (Executive Producer of CBS’ “NCIS”) to finish a procedure. Anne found solace in admiring the works of famous artists such as Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, however, she noticed something. While this art was beautiful, she didn’t see herself, or anyone that looked like her, in them.
“I noticed there was very little or no representation of my culture as an African-American in the art,” shared Burford-Johnson. “After I returned home and my husband was well, I [knew] I wanted to give back in some way. [So] I said, ‘Let’s will our art to Cedars-Sinai.”
The Johnsons are proud of their art collection, which has art that spans over forty years. Because of them, Cedars-Sinai is able to display Phoebe Beasley’s Streetcar Line in their medical center. Other art donations came from members of The Brain Trust of Cedars-Sinai, an organization led by professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, Keith Black, MD, dedicated to providing philanthropic research.
Portrayals of Black life and history showcase the breadth, the multidimensionality, and the wholeness of Black life, past and present. The exhibit highlights a spectrum of artists within various generations, showcasing the diversity within the Black community while serving as the visual reclamation of Black history.
“We aim to celebrate past artists that have opened doors while amplifying the present artists that push their vision and values forward. We hope for this exhibition to serve as an entry point to shift how to engage in the world around us and enlighten and inspire viewers of all backgrounds,” said a representative from Cedars-Sinai.
“This exhibition is an important entry point dialogue at Cedars-Sinai,” Nicole M. Michell, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer said. “The portrayal of the Black experience from the spectrum of artists represented will shift how we think about the healing impact of art. It’s a pathway to engaging in the world around us.”
K.C Miller, Senior Principle Gifts Officer at Cedars-Sinai, who assisted in securing the donations and loaned art stated that Open Doors is “a true win for the organization.”
The Open Doors exhibit will be up until August 2022. You can see this exhibit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (8700 Beverly Blvd. #2900A, Los Angeles, CA 90048) at the South Tower, Plaza Level, adjacent to the Plaza Café.