OMCA’s Exhibit on the Life and Work of Angela Davis Is Meant for This Moment

‘Angela Davis — Seize the Time’ will include over 130 pieces of media, as well as a new 30-minute video interview with Davis conducted by OMCA in 2019.

We’re in a particularly precarious chapter in human society. The climate is worsening; it’s sending record-breaking hurricanes barreling toward the Florida coastline. Women’s rights are being stripped away; inadequate access to reproductive healthcare is killing women in America (and women in Iran are, quite literally, fighting for their right to autonomously exist). Mass shootings are still occurring. Rates of racial injustice continue rising. The prison industry has become an industrial complex.

Angela Davis — the former Black Panther, radical abolitionist, and multi-hyphenated speaker, author, and college professor  — has made it her life’s mission to help correct all of the above issues. And from October 7th through June 11th of 2023, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) will display an exhibit in honor of Davis’s dynamism and vocation.

Titled Angela Davis — Seize the Time, the OMCA-hosted exhibit is curated around the influence of activist and scholar Angela Davis, spanning over 130 pieces — from print media to courtroom sketches, as well as contemporary artwork and historic photographs — all of which are organized into four sections, each one themed around a specific topic of her work. First debuting at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Seize the Time will make its West Coast debut to the public at OMCA next Friday.

With a primary focus on Davis’s legacy, as well as her ongoing role as an important modern figure for artists and activists, the exhibit will feature a captivating collection of both contemporary and historical artworks, original sketches, rare manuscripts, and more; the “heart of the exhibition” is set to oscillate around the Angela Davis Archive in Oakland, per OMCA; the display, too, highlights the evergreen nature of Davis’s work, as well as her continued influence on contemporary culture.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Zimmerli at Rutgers University to highlight a world-renowned historical figure with deep connections to our city,” said OMCA Director and CEO Lori Fogarty in a press release, hinting at the timely successes of past exhibits. “As with our recent exhibitions All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50 and Hella Feminist, ‘Seize the Time’ connects our community with timely topics of both national and international significance with local and regional ties; in this case, we’re exploring the life of Angela Davis, a local icon with a global impact. We hope that visitors can dive deeper into the empowering legacy of Davis, and feel inspired to create change.”

To help museum-goers navigate the sheer vastness of Davis’s career and life, Seize the Time is arranged into four sections. Exhibit attendees first pass through an introductory section that beacons them to learn about Davis’s multi-faceted work as an educator — activist, author, prominent fixture of the Black liberation struggle, and her involvement in political activism leading up to her arrest in 1970. 

The following three sections all shine the proverbial spotlight on more immersed aspects of her life and work. 

(Immediately after leaving the first part of Seize the Time, attendees will navigate through the second section of the display which focuses on why Davis was placed on the FBI’s most wanted list in 1970. Respectively, sections three and four take visitors on a deep and thorough dive into the incredible international grassroots movements she began and her ongoing work in revealing how the present-day incarceration system is interwoven with slavery.)

Donna Gustafson, Zimmerli’s chief curator, who co-curated the gallery with OMCA Project Lead Lisa Silberstein and Curator Peggy Monahan, as well as Gerry Beegan, professor in art and design at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts, managed to concisely encompass of Davis’s subject-spanning work by choosing specific posters, archival newsprints, multimedia collages, and other pieces of media. 

“Our visitors were extremely moved by this exhibition, and we’re so glad that ‘Seize the Time’ will make its way to the Oakland Museum of California to celebrate the life of Angela Davis, who is based in Oakland, and learn more about her extraordinary story,” says Gustafson, having previously nodded at Davis’s icon status as a symbol of hope and Black resistance.

Frankly, we can’t wait to get our sneak peek at Seize the Time before it opens to the public to further wax on our adoration for all things Angela Davis. 

Feature Image: Angela Davis speaks in DeFremery Park at a Free Huey rally in 1969 (Courtesy of OMCA, via Stephen Shames / Polaris Images)

‘Angela Davis — Seize the Time’ will run at OMCA from October 7th through June 11th of 2023; at the exhibit’s end, a new 30-minute video interview with Davis that was conducted by OMCA in 2019 will be screened. For more information on the exhibit, as well as other exhibits being hosted at the critically-acclaimed Oakland museum, visit

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