Billy Colbert: Lessons are Learned [working title]
Discussions about race become more dynamic when we consider that—as a people—Black Americans have not yet had their moment to be regular day-to-day Americans.
From the documented violence of slavery to the visuals of the Jim Crow era and the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s and today’s Modern Black Superhero, what America knows of Blacks in America is a collection of troubling circumstances, questionable transactions, great feats of athleticism, slapstick humor, and of course the rhythmic vibes that hold it all together. What’s missing is an overall human experience. As artist Billy Colbert notes, if white America has never witnessed an average Black American, is there any surprise that Black Americans are rarely seen as just that—humans?
For over ten years, Colbert has been pulling together a massive collection of video footage to help tell the stories of the everyday Black American. From the cutting room floor to the shelves of a handheld camcorder enthusiast, Colbert finds ways to obtain never-before-published, moving portraits of Black Americans, which he then weaves together to create compelling narratives.
For Lessons Are Learned, Colbert presents a selection of these video collages that take the viewer on a new kind of journey. Tales of struggle, hope, and happiness are woven together to create unique visual experiences throughout The Gallery at Studeō PAR-. The film component is accompanied by a selection of wall-hung pieces to further establish Colbert’s narrative.
Billy Colbert, Feint [video still], 2022. Film still. Courtesy of the artist