Celebrate Hip Hop Culture at the Cincinnati Art Museum

”The Culture” exhibit explores the history and connections between hip hop and the art world.
“The Culture” at Cincinnati Art Museum features pieces highlighting the artistry in hip hop.

Photograph by Charlie Jaeb

The Cincinnati Art Museum is hosting The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century, an exhibition that explores the genre’s decades-long influence on society. On hip hop’s 50th anniversary, the show features more than 90 art pieces from celebrated artists.

Curated by Jason Rawls, an assistant professor of hip hop at Ohio State University, The Culture features outfits worn by musical greats such as Pharrell, Chance The Rapper, and more. TV screens with headphones immerse museum goers in influential songs and visuals, allowing them to focus their attention and grasp the sounds and colors being shown.

Paintings, portraits, graffiti, and multimedia displays showcase the innovation, creativity, and passion of hip hop. “Grandmaster Caz said, ‘Hip Hop didn’t invent anything. It reinvented everything,’” says Rawls.

Celebrating hip hop while reflecting on its storied past, the exhibition highlights historical perspectives that may be forgotten. One piece that stands out is called For Whom the Bell Curves, featuring gold chains hung on the wall, and items that are so prominent in the community today are used to tell difficult stories of the past. “If you picture on one side the continent of North America and the Caribbean islands and on the other side the continent of Africa, you see very clearly that [the gold chains represent the] slave trade routes, from the 1600s,” says Rawls.

“The Culture” is on display through September 29, 2024.

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