In both mainstream media and new and emerging concepts like web3, Ford’s hope is for Obsidian, which launched in 2017, to be “an authentic voice of authentic history” by preserving and sharing images and artifacts from Black culture. Through Lobus, a platform that supports physical and digital art ownership (and counts the Fondation Louis Vuitton and SFMOMA among its partners), Ford found a compelling way to expand Obsidian’s reach.
“I met Angela and she blew me away at hello,” says Lori Hotz, who started Lobus with Sarah Wendell Sherrill in 2018. Hotz and Ford first crossed paths this past March, at Forbes’s 30/50 Summit in Abu Dhabi. “[Her mission] really plays well into what we focus on, which is leveraging blockchains, smart contracts, and NFTs to help creators and cultural institutions—and what’s so powerful about this is the impact it’s going to have on the broader community.” As NFT culture evolves past viral tweets and bored apes, cultural and historical artifacts are gaining currency.
“Obsidian is really building what we believe to be the whole new paradigm of culture and art for the future,” adds Sherrill. “The way that you would interact with these images before would be through stock photography; maybe you would license them for use in a publication. But now there’s this feeling of, I’m a part of this community. It’s an image that I get to mint, and it sits in my wallet, and just like I look at photos of my family and my friends on my phone, I also get to pull up a piece of culture.”
This first drop on Juneteenth is only the beginning: With the Obsidian Collections’s materials numbering in the thousands, Ford envisions building out its presence on web3 just as she has IRL. (Obsidian is currently transforming the historic Lu Palmer Mansion in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood into a museum and library.) “We really want to continue to explore,” she says. “We’ll put a lot of these images out as NFTs, we’ll create galleries in the metaverse…we want to be the through line for historic Black images. They matter.”