Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980
The exhibition Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960–1980 chronicled the vital legacy of the city's African American artists. The work of these practitioners was animated to an extent by the civil rights and Black Power movements, reflecting the changing sense of what constituted African American identity and American culture. The power of the black community strengthened nationwide as racial discrimination began to lessen as a result of new legislation and changing social norms. As there were plentiful opportunities for African Americans to make a livelihood in Southern California, Los Angeles soon had a substantial black population, and social, political, and economic changes drew transplants from around the country. Galvanized by these transformations, black artists worked to form a cultural community that became an important part of the city's thriving arts scene.
Now Dig This! examined a pioneering group of African American artists whose work, connections, and friendships with other artists of varied ethnic backgrounds influenced the creative community and artistic practices that developed in Los Angeles during this historic period. The exhibition presented 140 artworks by these artists and the friends who influenced and supported them during this period and explored the significant contributions of African Americans to the canon of Los Angeles–based art.
Now Dig This! was presented as part of Pacific Standard Time, a collaboration of more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California, coming together to tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene and how it became a new force in the art world. Organized by the Hammer and curated by Columbia University professor Kellie Jones, Now Dig This! chronicled and celebrated this nuanced and multicultural history of Los Angeles.
Launched in 2016, the Now Dig This! digital archive extends the life of this momentous exhibition, with a gallery of artwork images and the associated didactic label texts from the installation at the Hammer Museum; essays, artist biographies, and a chronology from the Now Dig This! exhibition catalogue; and a variety of other resources meant to encourage further research.