“10 In Search of A Nation” launched AfriCOBRA onto the national and international art scene.


Exhibiting at The Studio Museum introduced AfriCOBRA to the East coast in Harlem. The Studio Museum in Harlem was born in 1968 and located on the upper floor of a large building on Fifth Ave. It began with an audacious concept that a museum should be an integral part of the everyday experience of the African-American community. Ed Spriggs along with a cadre of visionary artists and community folks set about building one of the foremost institutions whose holdings rival many others dedicated to collecting and exhibiting the creative heritage of the African Diaspora.

Ed Spriggs and his staff challenged the art world by installing the artwork to reflect AfriCOBRA's Philosophy and Aesthetics of “Cool-Ade Colors”. In lieu of the typical white walls, the colors lime green, grape purple, cherry red, yellow and pink stood as the backdrop that echoed the vibrance of the works themselves.

In an effort to continue the integration of community involvement with art, AfriCOBRA began contemplating ways to ensure that the people had input and access to their work and creative process. A key element was the use of printmaking, as the most democratic form of image making. AfriCOBRA gave out a ballot to visitors asking them to vote on work(s) from the exhibition they would like to own for mass production. Thus, fostering community and providing access to art beyond the gallery walls. As Jeff Donaldson proclaimed, this act allowed for “ everyone who wanted some of AfriCOBRA to have some”

This initiated AfriCOBRA's now iconic silkscreen print series “Art for the People”.  Prints were sold for $10 each; a price affordable enough "for the people" outside of art institutions. Key characteristics of the prints from the series include the $10 price on the surface of the work along with the AfriCOBRA symbol, a Gelede mask wearing sunglasses.  

As a result of the voting, the following choices were made into silkscreen prints:
Barbara Jones-Hogu’s “NATION TIME”
Nelson Stevens’ “UHURU” (Swahili for freedom)
Carolyn Mims Lawrence's “UPHOLD YOUR MEN”
Gerald Williams’s “DIG THIS KING ALFRED”
Napoleon Jones-Henderson’s “EGYPTIAN SOLAR-SYMBOLISM”.

Each print had various edition sizes of 60-70 prints and were distributed all over the country, until there were no more.

 
AfriCOBRA official Gelede with Sunglases

AfriCOBRA official Gelede with Sunglases


The works pictured below are a sampling of pieces featured in AfriCOBRA's "10 in Search of a Nation" Exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1970.