Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century Exhibit Is Open Through January 1st At Saint Louis Art Museum

While in St. Louis visiting family for Thanksgiving, I was able to pop into the Saint Louis Art Museum to see their latest special exhibit currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip hop music and the mark it has made on art and culture. “The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century” opened on August 19th, hosting a free block party outside the museum. 

The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

The event celebrated the back-to-school block party hosted in the Bronx in 1973 by DJ Kool Herc and his sister Cindy Campbell. DJ Kool and Cindy started the event to raise money for their back-to-school wardrobes. As DJ Kool played his soul and funk mixes, crowds gathered and the party poured onto the streets, becoming known to historians as the moment that hip hop was born. 

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

According to the museum, “The Culture” is a multidisciplinary and multimedia exhibition that presents a sweeping art history of hip hop and its myriad expressions across the globe. It also examines how the collision of hip hop, technology, and the marketplace over the decades has molded contemporary art and material culture. The exhibit features 130 art pieces created by established and emerging artists. 

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict
The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

The goal of the Saint Louis Art Museum was to showcase art not previously exhibited in St. Louis before, and put the spotlight on marginalized voices. As part of the museum’s engagement efforts with the surrounding community, they collaborated with 5 five organizations that represent the five pillars of hip hop, created by a “godfather” of hip hop, DJ Afrika Bambaataa.

The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

The pillars are rapping, DJ-ing, breakdancing, graffiti, and knowledge. The partner organizations include UrbArts Gallery, St. Louis County Library, Kode REDD Dance, St. Louis ArtWorks, and Harris-Stowe State University, listed in respect to the order mentioned prior. 

The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Some highlights of the exhibit are a pair of large Air-Force Ones made out of car parts, created by St. Louis artist Aron Fowler, an outfit worn by Chance The Rapper, and colorful wigs belonging to Lil’ Kim. Also featured is Gary Simmons’, “The Garage Lab”, a structure that resembles a two-car garage, covered in concert posters from around the globe, which will serve as a performance space for the duration of the exhibit. 

Some of my favorite items on display were clothes designed by Dapper Dan and Virgil Abloh along with a portrait of Cardi B taken by Morrocan photographer Hassan Hajjaj.

The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict
The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

We highly recommend a visit if you are in the St. Louis area. The exhibit is only open for one more week, closing on January 1st. Tickets can be purchased online or in person. Adults are $12, seniors and students are $10, children (6–12) are $6, and children 5 and under are free. Members of the Art Museum can enter for free. Check out this incredible exhibit before it’s too late and immerse yourself in 50 years of hip hop

Words by Emily Cigan @emily.cigan and Amy Harris @thetraveladdictig

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Amy Harris
Amy Harris is a writer and photographer who has been traveling for 20 years and flown over 2 million miles to visit over 80 countries on 6 continents. She is a freelance photographer for Invision by Associated Press, AP Images and Rex/Shutterstock. Her work can be seen in various publications and websites including: Rolling Stone, AP Images, National Geographic Books, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Forbes.com, Lonely Planet Travel Guides, JetStar magazine, and Delta Sky Magazine.

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