Dig Baton Rouge

Feel the Rhythm; Hip Hop: A 21st Century Art Movement

What is hip hop? Is it simply a style, music or is it art? LSU Museum of Art’s (LSUMOA) upcoming lecture, “The Roots of Hip Hop: Caribbean Culture and Influence on a Modern American Art Form” seeks to answer those questions. On February 18th, Lynley Farris, Creative Placemaker for Mid City Development Alliance (MCRA) will discuss the correlation between hip hop and LSUMOA’s current exhibit, “The Carnival, the City and the Sea.”

The exhibit, which will be on display until mid-March, is a collection of Haitian artwork inspired by Haiti’s traditions of both Carnival and Vodun. It features work from artists such as Toussaint Auguste and Philome Obin, as well as artists from the school of Obin, Etienne Chavannes and Antoine Seneque and Telemaque Obin. Works from world-renowned Haitian artists Wilson Bigaud, Rigaud Benoit and Gerard Valcin are also on display.

Farris, whose research field of study is hip-hop, seeks to bridge the gap between historical art and modern-day hip-hop culture.

“Hip-Hop is one of our new art movements that has happened in the 20th and 21st centuries,” says Farris. “There are deep historical roots that come with that. It’s not just a pop cultural thing or a fashion thing.”

She went on to talk about the concept of the “African diaspora” cultures displayed in the Haitian artwork and how the “people of Haiti translate what particular African culture is into their new culture of Haiti.”

The lecture will use pieces of artwork from “The Carnival, the City, and the Sea” to explain the African and Carribean traditions and influences on hip-hop, particularly in the Bronx during the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. “When I look at these painting, I see the foundations of hip hop,” says Farris. “Children from the Bronx were interpreting American culture with their immigrant roots and what you get is hip hop.”

Farris went on to say that hip-hop is a very “intricate art form” that affects everyday life.

“It isn’t just something you see on MTV,” says Farris. “There is this in-depth artist movement that comes from hip-hop, and it impacts us every single day.”

Those who have not seen the exhibit already may want to view it before attending the lecture; however, Farris will be explaining, in depth, some of the pieces to get a better understanding and appreciation of the hip-hop movement. The lecture will focus mostly on the elements that rap and djing come from, but will also talk about how all of the cultural elements of rap, graffiti art and break dancing intertwine to form this art movement.

For more information on the “The Roots of Hip Hop” lecture and “The Carnival, the City, and the Sea” exhibit, check out LSU Museum of Art’s website, lsumoa.org. The lecture is at 6 p.m. and is free to children under the age of 12, museum members and university students with ID. Museum admission fees are $5 for adults and children 13+.

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