Since its origins in the Bronx in the 1970s, hip-hop has not only influenced music, poetry, and dance, it’s had an impact on art as well.
Pump Up the Volume!, a free exhibit running Jan. 27-Feb. 26 in Sacramento State’s Robert Else Gallery, features the art of Jane Dickson and Joe Lewis, who explore the dynamic music form and its global reach through paintings, photos, text, and more. The two artists were on hand for the exhibit’s opening reception from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, and held a special artists’ talk from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Kadema Hall 145.
Described as the voice of the underserved and unrepresented who have been abandoned by the powerful, hip-hop has spread around the world, ushering in a new movement along with art forms such as street art, graffiti, and break dancing.
Pump Up The Volume! consists of more than 60 discrete pieces, including portraits of important hip-hop artists. There is also an audio component: An overlay of 278 songs tracing the history of the genre will play during the exhibit’s run.
Art Professor Elaine O’Brien arranged to bring the exhibition to Sac State from the BonxArtSpace in New York, where it was on view in February and March of last year.
“Pump Up The Volume! shows bright embers of a youth culture that caught fire fast and burns hot everywhere today,” says O’Brien. “We brought this show here for the students, to impress and inspire them with the force of art made by young people out of school and against the odds.”
Dickson began working on projects at Fashion Moda in the South Bronx in 1979, created City Maze there in 1980 along with graf artists Crash and Noc, and began collaborating with future husband Charlie Ahearn on Wild Style, the first hip-hop movie, in 1981. Often working with industrial materials, her work examines the conventions and disjunctions of contemporary American life.
Her work is owned by more than 30 museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and the Brooklyn Museum.
Lewis’ work reflects his introduction to hip-hop and street culture. His focus is on “the Word,” its influence on animate and inanimate ideas, places, and things. At times, he also muses on the mystical and supernatural meaning of everyday things when taken out of context, such as prep school boys dressing and acting like “gangsters.”
His work can be found in collections at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Deutsche Bank.
The exhibit is sponsored in part by Sacramento State’s One World Initiative and Associated Students Inc.
For more information, visit Sacramento State’s Art Department at www.al.csus.edu/art or call (916) 278-6166. – Craig Koscho