Otherwise/Revival is a group exhibition that visualizes the impact of the historic Black church— specifically the Black Pentecostal movement—on contemporary artists. Inspiration for the exhibition is drawn from reflecting on the event of the Azusa Street Revival. On April 9, 1906, from a home on Bonnie Brae Street in downtown Los Angeles, Rev. William J. Seymour preached a sermon on the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues that would change the course of spiritual history. People from diverse races and economic classes congregated to hear Seymour’s sermons—sparking the Black Pentecostal movement.
Author and artist Ashon T. Crawley has written extensively on this movement. His concept of “otherwise possibilities” as a reverberation of the Black church experience informed the curatorial query and title of Otherwise/Revival. “Otherwise, as word—otherwise as possibilities, as phrase—announces the fact of infinite alternatives to what is.” For Crawley, the elements of the Black Pentecostal Church—the Hammond organ, emphatic breath, shouting, and glossolalia—create space for “otherwise possibility” to emerge.
The works in the exhibition respond to these “otherwise possibilities” embodied by the Black church. Sculptures, paintings, video, and performances celebrate the significance of music, praise, breath, and community. Exhibited artists reflect on their traditions, heritages, passions, and talents to cultivate a space where art thrives and expresses a unifying language for all.
– Jasmine McNeal and Cara Megan Lewis, Curators of Otherwise/Revival