Tupac Shakur’s tragic death in September 1996 at the age of 25 left his family and fans in mourning. Through his music, he has been able to further establish his legacy as an artist, activist, and cultural icon. His story has been told on several occasions, and a new exhibit in California hopes to add to his story.
The L.A. Times reports that the “Tupac Shakur. Wake Me When I’m Free” exhibit will open in Los Angeles’ Canvas at L.A. Live on Jan. 21 and is slated to stay there for six months. The exhibit may also travel to other cities in the future.
Jeremy Hodges, founder of the Project Art Collective, partnered up with Nwaka Onwusa, the chief curator at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, to create the exhibit in hopes that it will pay homage to the legendary rapper in the best way possible, according to Rolling Stone.
“Tupac Shakur was my Malcolm; he was my Martin, and to build an experience that honors such a prolific man cannot be summed up in words,” Hodges told Rolling Stone. “We wanted to create a memorable experience that will inspire you to be better than when you walked in, all while leaving you with the knowledge that he was a true revolutionary spirit.”
Rolling Stone reports on the experience of the exhibit:
“Wake Me When I’m Free” is said to highlight the music and poetry of Shakur with a special focus on the deeper meaning of his activism and art. The 20,000-square-foot installation will reflect the space of a contemporary art museum and incorporate never-before-seen artifacts relating to the late rapper’s career and legacy.
Tupac’s relationship with his mother, Afeni Shakur, has been well documented throughout the years. He released the tear-jerking “Dear Mama,” while incarcerated in 1995 as an ode to his mother. Afeni, who died in 2016, had a profound influence on Tupac, and she will be a focus of a special gallery in the exhibit.
Jamal Joseph, Shakur’s godfather and adviser to his estate, spoke to the L.A. Times about how inspirational Afeni and Tupac Shakur were to the world around them.
“Afeni was the baddest Black woman to walk the planet,” Joseph said. “She raised awareness and shifted the atmosphere wherever she went. Tupac’s brilliance shined brighter than the sun. He lived and moved with creative — revolutionary — fearless-passion fueled speed of a comet. Afeni and Pac challenged, re-imagined, and transformed history.”
Arron Saxe, president of Kinfolk Management + Media—who is working with Universal Music Group, CAA, and Round Room Live on the project—hopes that the exhibit will humanize the late rapper.
“The whole point of this exhibit was to not only show the kaleidoscopic nature of Tupac, but also show how he is relatable,” Saxe told the L.A. Times. “There are incredible pieces of clothing. This exhibit is also a mix of contemporary art and technology too. Many of the artifacts have never been seen before.”