“5+1” exhibition catalogue, 1969

Cover of the "5+1" catalogue.

When Bowling arrived in New York in 1966, there was increasing debate around the concept of Black art. In 1969, he organized “5+1” at Stony Brook University. The exhibition presented work by five African American artists with whom he shared an interest in abstraction––Melvin Edwards, Daniel LaRue Johnson, Al Loving, Jack Whitten, and William T. Williams––alongside Bowling’s own work. Intending to give a platform to art being denied visibility, the artist also sought to create space for inquiry outside of a museum setting.