View Original Notice ? SoFi Stadium will host Kinsey African American Art and History Collection in February
In the early 1970s, Bernard and Shirley Kinsey settled into a little house off Crenshaw Boulevard in Inglewood. The couple, who met while attending Florida A&M University, shared a passion for traveling and collecting art. Through the years, the Kinseys have amassed a sizable collection of art and artifacts that has turned into a touring exhibition known as The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection.
After traveling to 35 cities across the United States and around the world over the past 15 years, the exhibition is coming back to the area and taking over a floor inside SoFi Stadium at Hollywood Park, less than a mile from the Kinseys’ first family home.
“It’s a full-circle moment for us,” Shirley Kinsey said during a walk-through of the exhibition, which is set to open to the public as a ticketed event on Feb. 23 and includes one-hour self-guided tours from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursdays-Mondays through April 2022. “It really feels like we’re coming back home.”
The Kinseys, who now live in Pacific Palisades, are sharing their finds, which include paintings, photographs, sculptures, rare books, postcards and more that document the African American experience from the 16th century until the present. Each piece highlights the untold stories of African Americans throughout U.S. history — exploring slavery, emancipation, the civil rights movement as well as the work of artists, inventors, thinkers and more — and the collection was created to “educate, motivate and inspire,” Shirley said.
“We love sharing this work because we know it changes lives,” Bernard said. “I will assure you that when people come in here and begin to get this sweep of history, they cannot go back. Most people, Black and White, don’t really know what happened in this country and the Kinsey Collection provides that filament for you to be able to nuance what happened. The idea is really that as much as we’re trying to give the artistic and historical aspect, what’s really driving this is the idea that you can too make a difference and you do matter.”
In 2010, Khalil, the Kinseys’ son, began curating the exhibition and bringing in new elements, including digital works of art, graphics and even some animation. Though the collection has been on display in numerous prestigious museums, Khalil said he’s enjoyed the challenge of presenting it in more non-traditional spaces like at Epcot at Walt Disney World in Florida, where it was on display for five years. Building the experience inside a football stadium has presented some interesting challenges and opportunities as well, he said.
“It allowed for a lot of creativity in approach,” he said while showing off some paintings and a series of photographs from the 1800s that had been enlarged and hung up on the wall. “We want to try to engage people who normally wouldn’t walk through the doors of a museum, or who might not feel welcome in a museum, so we want to get their attention.”
As far as adding in more contemporary works, including digital elements and creating spaces for visitors to take selfies and engage with the collection, Khalil said it’s the natural progression of the exhibit. The public can also view much of The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection through a virtual gallery on Google Arts & Culture online.
“We realized the power and the potential of this and how to share it in so many ways, both conventional and unconventional, and that has proven to be beneficial in our journey,” he said of refining the experience. “It’s just another extension of where we want to go and you have to develop things the way people receive information. We want to be able to do things in a dynamic way and go after as many approaches as we can.”
Some of the standout items in the exhibition include a painting and sculpture from May Howard Jackson, who was born in 1877 and became the first African American woman to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. There’s a large abstract landscape painting by Richard Mayhew, an activist and artist, still living and working in Santa Cruz at the age of 97.
There are also several works on display by the late artist and former San Diego Charger Ernie Barnes, including the 1971 painting known as “High Aspirations” and another titled “The Maestro,” which the Kinseys said were both so powerful that they had to display them together. There’s also a bit of the Kinseys’ history within the collection as well, as Canadian painter and sculptor Artis Lane was commissioned by family friends to paint a portrait of Shirley and Bernard for their 35th wedding anniversary.
Talks to bring the exhibit to SoFi Stadium started over the summer in 2020, Jason Witt, senior director of community affairs and engagement for SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park said. During the months of lockdown, the staff were engaging in a series of virtual fireside chats, one which included Bernard Kinsey, who was brought in to talk about the importance and history of Juneteenth, the federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States.
Since the Kinseys feel so connected to the city of Inglewood and Los Angeles, they decided to showcase the collection in the stadium and The Bernard and Shirley Kinsey Foundation for Arts and Education will host a slew of community-engaging activities, working directly with local non-profits and schools to facilitate field trips to the exhibit and various workshops and lectures. Proceeds from the exhibit will also benefit the newly founded Hollywood Park Foundation.
“The foundation is dedicated to uplifting youth in and around Inglewood and Los Angeles as it relates to education, health and wellness,” Witt said. “Access to education and food and learning healthy eating habits, these things are key stepping stones and the foundation of building success so we want to build up the youth around us.”
Kinsey African American Art and History Collection
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursdays-Mondays starting Feb. 23
Where: SoFi Stadium, 1001 Stadium Drive, Inglewood
Tickets: $15 ages 16-and-older; $12 ages 5-15; $12 students, seniors, active military and Inglewood residents with I.D.; Group rates and more available at sofistadium.com/kinsey. Parking is free.