Art of the Day: No Soil Better at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center

Today's art comes from the Rochester Contemporary Art Center's No Soil Better: Art & The Living Legacy of Frederick Douglass.

Open through March 18, the exhibition celebrates the human rights leader, abolitionist and author born into slavery whose 200th birthday was February 14. The Rochester community has united to celebrate the occasion.

RoCo executive director and curator Bleu Cease says, "We’ve been inspired by his words and actions, and galvanized by the Edwards monument (1899) of Douglass. This commanding statue is certainly one of Rochester’s most important artworks. Unknown to many Rochesterians, it is the first public statue dedicated to an African American in the United States."

No Soil Better takes its title from a Douglass quote appearing on the base of the monument:

“I know of no soil better adapted to the growth of reform than American soil. I know of no country where the conditions for effecting great changes in the settled order of things, for the development of right ideas of liberty and humanity are more favorable than here in these united states.” –Frederick Douglass, speech on the Dred Scott decision given in NYC, May 1857

This exhibition presents new artworks by a diverse group of emerging and established artists from Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and New York City. Their works consider Douglass himself, how he has been memorialized, and the importance of his legacy today. Ranging from painting to sculpture to video, the artworks included in No Soil Better constitute a contemporary monument to Douglass made by today’s artists. 

No Soil Better
Detail - Captured in Black & White, 2018 by Thievin’ Stephen (Rochester)
No Soil Better
Artist Stephon Senegal (New York City) with his artwork No. 88, 2018. Also pictured are No Soil Better Artists Annette Daniels Taylor (Buffalo, Left)
and Shawn Dunwoody (Rochester, second from Right).
No Soil Better
Artist Luvon Sheppard (Rochester) with his Douglass inspired watercolors
No Soil Better
Visitor with World Star, 2018 by Shawn Dunwoody (Rochester)
Cover image: Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s exhibition, No Soil Better: Art & the Living Legacy of Frederick Douglass