Washington, D.C’s Studio Acting Conservatory’s new Columbia Heights space holds a masterpiece comparable to the Sistine Chapel.
A “Last Supper” scene honoring Jesus and his disciples as Black men was unearthed by workers, and immediately the search commenced to find its creator.
The first clue: an inscription that read “all rights reserved 1982 Akili Ron Anderson” led them to the Howard University professor’s office.
The piece, Anderson recalls, was commissioned by New Home Baptist Church before they relocated to another area some years later. Back then, Anderson specialized in creating stained glass windows that contributed to the Black Art Movement – a “personal and collective cultural discovery and sense of Black pride,” as he describes it, during the 60s and 70s.
That is, until New Home Baptist called.
The sculpture reimagined religious figures that inspired worshippers to see themselves and “believe that they can ascend to heaven, too,” he says.
Preserving Black art is difficult when our society is hostile or indifferent to it. So using materials that would be both challenging and expensive to remove was Anderson’s priority.
While the conservatory wrestles with how to publicly display the piece, you can enjoy Anderson’s stained glass art around the city in locations such as the Columbia Heights Metro station and Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel on Howard’s campus.
Imagine Jesus and his disciples as Black men. What feelings come up for you?
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