AKINSANYA KAMBON

OUR AMERICA/WHOSE AMERICA?

2022 | Group Exhibition at Ferrin Contemporary | North Adams, MA

Our America/Whose America? Is a “call and response” exhibition between contemporary artists and historic ceramic objects.

View the exhibition page HERE  & View the historic collection HERE

Equestrian John Randall, Buffalo Soldier


Akinsanya Kambon
Equestrian, John Randall, Buffalo Soldier
2012
raku-fired clay
15.5 x 4 x 9.5″

“Buffalo Soldier” originally referred to members of the segregated units of African American soldiers formed after the Civil War by an act of Congress. This includes the 9th and 10th Cavalry, and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments of the United States Army.

EQUESTRIANS


FIGURES


VESSELS


BIO

American, b. 1946, Sacramento, CA
lives and works in Long Beach, CA

Born as Mark Teemer in Sacramento, California, Akinsanya Kambon is a former Marine, Black Panther, and art professor. Stricken with polio as a child, he turned to drawing for comfort and ultimately his therapy. He frequently visited the Crocker Art Museum as a child which fascinated and showed him the human potential in creating art. In 1966, Kambon was drafted and served a tour of duty in Vietnam with the United States Marine Corps, as an infantryman and combat illustrator, until 1968. Sharing experiences of racism with other Black servicemen inspired Kambon’s activism upon returning to the United States. 

Shortly after his service ended, Kambon joined the Sacramento Chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, after growing more frustrated with the harsh mistreatment and brutality of black people locally and nationally. In the Panther Party, Kambon served as Lieutenant of Culture. He created The Black Panther Coloring Book to bring attention to racial inequality and social injustice. After the Panther Party was dismantled, from 1983 to 2010, Kambon worked closely with youth and gangs in Southern California in the areas of violence prevention and conflict resolution. Alongside notable members and founders of both Bloods and Crips, Kambon raised efforts to redirect negative activities and gang retaliations. He dedicated himself to Pan-Africanism, teaching African spirituality, religions, history, and culture through multimedia art. In 1984 he founded Pan African Art in Long Beach, California, providing free programs for youth in art, leadership, and culture. 

Despite being only semi-literate in his youth, Kambon went on to earn his Master of Arts from California State University, Fresno. In more recent years, he was featured in Wartorn: 1861–2010, an HBO documentary screened at the Pentagon on post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. Today, Kambon’s work is as rich and varied as his personal history, expressed through drawings, paintings, bronze sculptures, and ceramics. The pieces included today are clay sculptures fired using the Western-style raku technique — a challenging, dangerous, and unpredictable process that creates prismatic and iridescent glaze finishes. He performs kiln firings in a ceremonial manner, breathing life into ceramic figures that typically represent African deities and spirits and, sometimes, American history and religious subjects. Drawing heavily on narrative tradition and personal experiences, including extensive travels throughout Africa, Kambon’s work celebrates perseverance through hardship, cultural pride, and his gift as a storyteller.

ON HIS WORK

“I’ve looked at a lot of African spirituality and I like to incorporate what I’ve learned into my own work. My biggest influences have been my travels to Africa – I think I’ve been to Africa 14 times to do research on African art: I’ve lived with the Bambara people in Mali, I’ve lived with the Mende in Sierra Leon, and every travel group has a totally different culture.

We must follow the lead of the wisest among us. I hope that people can embrace a better understanding of history, and understand the humanity in people. So many people have a superiority complex in this country. They’re not going to admit anything… a lot of people are so ashamed [and] they don’t want to look at that shame. But you gotta understand how some people were devastated spiritually and culturally by [slavery and racism]. And some people don’t get over it. I think you should understand and realize that some of the ideas that your ancestors passed onto you, you still have them”

CURRENT + RECENT EXHIBITIONS

Videos featuring Akinsanya Kambon

Artist Akinsanya Kambon discusses his work in the 2020 solo exhibition American Expressions/African Roots at the Crocker Art Museum. This exhibition focuses specifically on the artist?s terra-cotta sculptures, which are fired using the Western-style raku technique ? a challenging, dangerous, and unpredictable process that creates prismatic and iridescent glaze finishes. He performs kiln firings in a ceremonial manner, breathing life into ceramic figures that typically represent African deities and spirits and, sometimes, American history and religious subjects.

Drawing heavily on narrative tradition and personal experiences, including extensive travels throughout Africa, Kambon?s work celebrates perseverance through hardship, cultural pride, and his gift as a storyteller.

Artist Talk: Akinsanya Kambon at Crocker Art Museum