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An artist’s journey from darkness to ‘color’

Photo by Mike Mazzanti.

Artist Joseph Holston’s “Color in Freedom” exhibit — which is currently on display at Northeastern University’s Gallery 360 — illuminates the history of slavery in America through the exhibit of more than four-dozen paintings.

Holston uses tone and color to tell the story of universal experiences like the Middle Passage and the Underground Railroad, reflecting Africans’ emotional journey from captivity to freedom.

Barry Gaither, the executive director of the National Center for Afro-American Artists in Roxbury, discussed Holston’s work with young Bostonians at Northeastern’s Cabral Center last Thursday.

”The artist’s job is to reimagine history, to put you in that moment in time and get you to think about what it would be like to live the lives of those people,” he said. “You’re called upon, whenever you make art, to reimagine something and take it out of everyday, ordinary life and package it up in a new story.”

Holston’s artwork was accompanied by a performance by a dance troupe led by Jacqui Parker, a playwriting fellow at the Huntington Theater. She revived a theatrical interpretation of Holston’s work she first performed when the exhibit opened in June.

“The story is two parts: one part of the story the artist is telling; the other part of the story you’re bringing,” Gaither said. “One of the reasons that the body is important is because everybody has one and you’re going to look at how the other ones are organized” to tell their part of the story.