Juneteenth Cincinnati and Kennedy Heights Arts Center present

A Celebration of the Harlem Renaissance
Art exhibition and performance series February 27 - March 27, 2021

In honor of Black History Month, Juneteenth Cincinnati is collaborating with Kennedy Heights Arts Center to present a multi-faceted celebration of the Harlem Renaissance from February 27 to March 27, 2021.

The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual, cultural, social, and artistic movement that took place in the 1920s and 1930s following the Great Migration during which thousands of African Americans left the south and moved north. It was marked by a flourishing of art, music and literature that reflected the history and experience of African Americans.

A Celebration of the Harlem Renaissance will highlight the artistic and cultural achievements and enduring legacy of this era through an art exhibition, poetry reading, dance and jazz performances. We honor those who were the original pioneers of a black lives matter movement that reshaped the way society would see and respect people of color.

Specially designed curriculum for intermediate and high school classrooms will allow local students to engage with the project. Students will learn about the social, cultural and political circumstances which gave rise to the Harlem Renaissance and the influences that inspired the work of the artists, writers, and musicians of the period, and create their own Harlem Renaissance inspired work.

“I want students to understand the positive impact of African Americans, how big the movement was, to know their history and build their self-esteem,” said Juneteenth Cincinnati President Lydia Morgan. “I want this experience to help them recognize their importance and use it to aspire to greater things.”  

The centerpiece of the project is an exhibition of commissioned new works by contemporary artists inspired by artists of the Harlem Renaissance.

Reflections of the Harlem Renaissance: The Legacy Continues, curated by Lex Nycole and Gee Horton, pays homage to the Harlem Renaissance era and how its artistic endeavors have shifted the American cultural, economic and political landscape. The exhibit is designed to memorialize, draw connections, and spark conversations as 12 diverse artists created new works, in their own mediums, in a way that authentically pays tribute to the artists of that era.

Artists include: Paris Abstract, Asmara, Cedric Michael Cox, FEALART, Cherie Garces, Lance Johnson, Hannah Jones, Prosper Jones, Natasha Quitano, Skye Schaffner, Ike Slimster, and TC Flowers.

“The artistic, literary and musical contributions of Harlem Renaissance artists continue to serve as an inspiration for artists of today,” remarked co-curator Lex Nycole. “It was a time where holding your tongue was scoffed upon and dwelling in your authenticity became the only elixir for success. An era that has paved an impenetrable path to greatness for anyone who so chooses to follow.”

The exhibition will be on view from February 27 - March 27 in Kennedy Heights Arts Center’s Lindner Gallery at 6620 Montgomery Road. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Friday, 12-5 pm, and Saturday 11am - 4pm. Free timed entry tickets can be reserved at kennedyarts.org. The artwork can also be viewed online on the project’s website at www.renaissanceincincy.org.

A Celebration of the Harlem Renaissance will also include a series of free, virtual performances on the four Saturdays in March.

An Evening of Jazz

Premieres March 6 at 7:00 p.m. • Available to stream through March 27

Cincinnati Public Schools jazz faculty and prominent local jazz artists perform music of the Harlem Renaissance. Legendary jazz selections such as Duke Ellington's Mood Indigo and Caravan and Fats Waller's Ain't Misbehavin' will be performed.

At Home in Harlem hosted by Jennie Wright
March 13 at 7:00 pm

Poet and performer Jennie Wright will host an immersive poetry experience and open mic via Zoom. Adult and teen poets are invited to sign up for a time slot to read their work and become an active part of the performance through at home cosplay by picking up "At Home in Harlem" costume kits that contain Harlem Renaissance era 'artifacts.'

Revolution Dance Theatre | Resilience: Rising to Renaissance
Premieres March 20 at 7:00 p.m. • Available to stream through March 27
Revolution Dance Theatre celebrates the spirit of African American excellence and the legacy of African American resilience in this dance tribute to the Harlem Renaissance. In this spirited work, RDT showcases the incredible artistic contributions made by African Americans against the backdrop of Jim Crow, racial disparity, and inequality in America.

CPS Students Perform Music of the Harlem Renaissance

March 27 at 7:00 pm

The Cincinnati Public Schools Elementary Jazz Orchestra and the Middle School Jazz Orchestra directed by Dr. Isidore Rudnick present a musical tribute to the great Harlem Renaissance musicians Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Billie Holiday. The orchestras will be joined by special guest artist, brilliant Louisville saxophonist Ron Jones.

All performances are free and accessible through the project’s website at www.renaissanceincincy.org. After the release dates, videos of each performance will be available for viewing on demand.

Art activities for students and curriculum for teachers are available for free download on the project website, as well.

About Kennedy Heights Arts Center

The mission of Kennedy Heights Arts Center is to enhance the life of the surrounding community through arts and cultural experiences that embrace diversity, foster creativity and build community. Founded in 2004, the community arts center provides arts education programs, exhibitions, and cultural events for more than 5,000 youth and adults annually. Kennedy Heights Arts Center receives annual operating support from ArtsWave and the Ohio Arts Council. More information at www.kennedyarts.org.