EVOLUTION

EVOLUTION

Dr. Samella Lewis, the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in art history, is a Hampton University institution. Her long association with the university includes studying there (she's a 1945 graduate), transferring the International Review of African American Art (IRAAA) which she founded in California in 1976 to Hampton's management in …


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Visions Of Our 44th President

Visions Of Our 44th President

When viewers encounter paintings, sculptures and other visual representations of President Barack Obama 100 years from today what will they see? How will the visual culture of our era portray the first African American U.S. president—the man and his era—to fututre generations? The opportunity to describe, define and interpret …


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Remembering Betty Blayton

Remembering Betty Blayton

The esteemed artist Betty Blayton (Taylor) transitioned Sunday morning, October 2, 2016 at Calvary Hospital in Bronx, N.Y.  She was 79.  A memorial service is planned for some time in the future in New York City. A number of Betty Blayton’s paintings specifically referred to "spirit," "soul,"  inward ("center") states, …


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American Purgatorio

American Purgatorio

Seattle artist Barbara Earl Thomas occupies a singular place in contemporary American art. Exploring themes of African American history, her evocative, image-rich tableaus link the latent mysticism of Northwest art with drama of scripture and violent memories of slavery and the Jim Crow South. After a career spanning nearly four decades, Thomas …


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Kellie Jones and Joyce J. Scott, 2016 MacArthur Fellows

Kellie Jones and Joyce J. Scott, 2016 MacArthur Fellows

Art historian and curator Kellie Jones and bead artist Joyce J. Scott are among the 2016 MacArthur award recipients announced by the Foundation on September 21, 2016.  Each MacArthur "fellow" (as they're called) receives a "stipend" (as it's humbly called) of $625,000 to expend in whatever way they please. Kellie Jones and Joyce J. Scott …


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David Huffman, Black Universe

David Huffman, Black Universe

  The first time I encountered the art of David Huffman, it was an awakening of sorts, not least because the artist has consistently and remarkably managed to combine a range of contradictory elements: everything from racial consciousness and the aesthetics of science fiction, to the visual idioms of abstraction.  While …


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Current Hampton University Museum Exhibition

Current Hampton University Museum Exhibition

Akili Ron Anderson still acts on the principles of the Black Arts Movement that he helped to build in the late 1960s. "Africans have to continue to struggle," he said during his talk at the reception for his retrospective exhibit at the Hampton University Museum on September 10, 2016.  His vision for that struggle: for African people to …


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Wide, Floating World

Wide, Floating World

Ideas from an African American giant of literature are infusing the subject matter of new projects by Sanford Biggers .  “Recently I’ve been very interested in the figure — more specifically, invisibility and visibility in the Ellisonian sense, and the physical sense and the gravity of the black body today,” …


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Khia On The Case

Khia On The Case

Khia Jackson is principal officer and creative lead for the J+AM Group , an Atlanta-based, multi-disciplinary design firm which, on its website, proclaims that its " members are creative both in and out of the office."  Jackson's out-of-the-office creavity includes editorial cartooning.  She has a knack for imagining visual ways …


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Art Stemming from STEM

Art Stemming from STEM

Since the publication of the “Rhythm of Structure: MathArt in the African Diaspora” print IRAAA issue in 2004, the journal has covered the influence of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and architecture on visual artists of African descent, and we’ve noticed how their STEM interests have continued to evolve. Two …


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Excavating the Life and Work of John Farrar

Excavating the Life and Work of John Farrar

During its 40 years of publication, the IRAAA has made significant contributions to the history and criticism of American art through the generous support of volunteer writers such as Jerry Langley.  An art collector and former FIDC attorney, Jerry Langley draws from investigative skills honed during his legal career to research and write …


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If I Can Help Somebody

If I Can Help Somebody

September 12, 2016  Ever since 2006, artist Sana Musasama has traveled to Cambodia for six weeks.  She does this during the December-January semester break from teaching ceramics and sculpture at Hunter College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.  Arriving in Southeast Asia, she uses art to help …


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By Design

By Design

Designers Address Police Gun Violence Artistic design is useful in addressing policy issues because it can provoke new ideas and actions.  During the summer 2016 spate of police being shot and people being shot by police (including a 73-year old woman shot in a police training exercise), graphic designer Khia Jackson wanted to use her …


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Bennie's Picks,  Fall 2016 and Beyond

Bennie's Picks, Fall 2016 and Beyond

Art collector and IRAAA advisor Bennie Johnson informs his collecting by keeping up with news on African American and African Diaspora visual arts. He shares the news with us and it's posted from the top of this column as he sends it, not in the chronological order of events. Most of the news relates to African American artists but it also …


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Charles White and the Black Chicago Renaissance

Charles White and the Black Chicago Renaissance

  I would ask my teachers why they never mentioned a Negro in history. I would bring up the name . . . of Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner and Frederick Douglass. I would mention the painters, Bannister and Tanner. My teachers answered smugly and often angrily. . . . It had been deeply ingrained in them, as in me in my first school years, that to …


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Art Activism to Reform or Dismantle the Criminal Justice System

Art Activism to Reform or Dismantle the Criminal Justice System

Artst Titus Kephar believes the U.S. prison system is part of the problem it seeks to correct — not the solution.  He addresses this issue in artistic ways and his work is being recognized by major institutions.    In June 2016, Kephar was awarded an Artist as Activist Fellowship by the Rauschenberg Foundation.   …


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Cookin' with STEAM

Cookin' with STEAM

Makola M. Abdullah strolled onto the TED-x Talks stage and signified , as the folks used say. The engineer and recently-appointed university president sang, finger popped and danced in making his point about how the arts can facilitate break-through thinking in science and technology. His performance led to an account about …


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Storm Clouds Over The Republic

Storm Clouds Over The Republic

The rancor accompanying this traveling show, organized by the Brooklyn Museum where it opened last year, is about the the motives of the artist’s “street casting” and, more generally, about his repetitive style. Synopsis: Kehinde Wiley — sexual predato r targeting gullible young men. His portraits of them lying across …


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Travel to the Ancient Land of the High Tech Dragon

Travel to the Ancient Land of the High Tech Dragon

Terry Dixon is on his way back to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Illinois-based artist visits Guangzhou to give a lecture about his work at the United States Consulate there.  This makes Dixon's fifth trip to Asia's most powerful emerging economy. And the deep Asian immersion is influencing new approaches in his work. In Overload , the …


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Khia On The Case

Khia On The Case

In February 2016, as Ugandan model Aamito Lagum walked the New York Fashion Week run ways wearing MAC, the cosmetics company posted a close-up photo of Lagum wearing a purple shade of its lipstick on the company’s Instagram feed. One would think that a cosmetics line on Instagram would attract benign browsers. One would think.   But …


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A Look Inside

A Look Inside

Fo Wilson (Folayemi) had the dream job of her youth: designing articles for  Essence and designing the   magazine's overall format. But the graphic designer harbored other creative selves.  The first to emerge was the furniture maker.   Wilson returned to school (Rhode Island School of Design), took "shop" courses, along …


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Acts of Love

Acts of Love

Note: Cassandra Butts had a very down-to-earth manner and exuded humility along with her savvy.  So although this article follows the standard journalistic style of referring to all other people by full name or last name, it seems fitting to refer to Cassandra by her first name within the context of her relations with associates who warmly …


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A Comic Book Trickster

A Comic Book Trickster

During the year that Alexandria Smith just completed as a visiting artist in printmaking at the University of Iowa, she was exposed to new printmaking techniques. These helped Smith refine her existing skills and gave her command of new methods she now incorporates into her practice. Based in Brooklyn, Smith uses the visual language of cartoons …


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Miles Davis, Artist and Friend

Miles Davis, Artist and Friend

On May, 26, 2016,  Terrie Williams emailed a message to her friends and associates commemorating what would have been the 90th birthday of her friend, jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. The message included a photo of Tattoo , a painting by Miles Davis   (shown below).   Principal of the Terrie Williams Agency, a NYC public relations …


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Lost & Found

Lost & Found

Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem is on view May 21 to August 28, 2016 at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The exhibition  presents artifacts, including photographs, contact sheets, and manuscripts, that showcase the collaborations of two giants of American art and literature.  More than 50 of these items have …


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I Feel Like I'm Finally Finding My Voice In Abstract Art

I Feel Like I'm Finally Finding My Voice In Abstract Art

Gasoline Rainbows, a solo exhibition of Erika Ranee’s paintings and works on paper, is on view at LMAKgallery, New York, April 30, 2016 - June 5, 2016.  Jennifer Samet's "Erika Ranee" (May 28, 2016) in Hyperallergic's "Beer With An Artist" series is a thoughtful and revealing exchange with the artist.   IRAAA+ first surveyed …


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Feel The Paint

Feel The Paint

New York City's Betty Cunningham Gallery will open the first show of its 2016 fall season right after Labor Day.  The artist: Beverly McIver.   Bevery McIver is a powerful force in contemporary American art. She applies an impasto of primary oil colors onto canvas to vividly express the emotions of her portrait subjects. Often it is …


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News and Events

News and Events

On May 24, 2016,  Monique Y. Wells successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign to support her mission of  “Sharing A Master’s Art with the World.”  The master is the abstract expressionist artist Beauford Delaney. The initiative is the latest of a series of Wells’ efforts on behalf of the late artist …


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Contemporary Artists Animate Masquerade Traditions

Contemporary Artists Animate Masquerade Traditions

When W.E.B. Dubois advanced the "life behind the veil” and “double consciousness” concepts in The Souls of Black Folk (1903), he was referring to African American experiences of separation and invisibility that also characterize the act of masking. In his poem, “We Wear the Mask,” Paul Laurence Dunbar …


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Art and the Elevation of Our Common Humanity

Art and the Elevation of Our Common Humanity

To follow up the IRAAA+ overview of the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, we asked artist, art historian and curator Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi to explain the increasing international presence of contemporary African art. What's the impetus for the global momentum outlined in the overview, and why now? Nzewi moderated three panels at the …


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Contemporary African Art, the Global Phenomenon

Contemporary African Art, the Global Phenomenon

Contemporary African art is achieving broad, international recognition at this moment and African critics, curators and gallerists are becoming major figures on the international art scene.   In the 20th century, only a few African-born painters or sculptors working in contemporary styles developed an international reputation …


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Reimagining Her Corporate Image

Reimagining Her Corporate Image

Photographer Endia Beal has been awarded a Magnum Foundation emergency fund grant to complete her latest project. The Magnum Foundation is known for funding the telling of underrepresented stories, and Beal's "Am I What You're Looking For?" does this in a series of photographs portraying  African American women making the transition from …


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Small World, Big Hearts, Strong Art

Small World, Big Hearts, Strong Art

Two powerful stories about the resilience of African people and the involvement of U.S. nationals in African crises are part of the background of the 2015-16 Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series. One involves actor Rosario Dawson; the other, visual artist Aron Belka. Rosario Dawson's African travel has led to a project that uses art and design for …


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Applying Visual Whimsy To Image Politics

Applying Visual Whimsy To Image Politics

Khia Jackson is a graphic designer who has developed a talent for imaginative cartooning.  And now she’s lending that talent to an on-going discussion about black women’s image in the media. Jackson is concerned about how black women are "animalized or made to come across as vulgar" and how the predominant image of black …


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Angela Davis Honored at Brooklyn Museum

Angela Davis Honored at Brooklyn Museum

Angela Y. Davis, feminist scholar activist for social justice and professor emerita at U.C. Santa Cruz, was honored at the annual Sackler Center First Awards at an awards ceremony and dinner reception at the Brooklyn Museum on June 2, 2016. In a show of solidarity with Davis's principles and in response to the Sackler Center's call for social …


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Catching Up with Pellom McDaniels

Catching Up with Pellom McDaniels

An art competition about the history of professional African American football players! Wonder if Pellom McDaniels knows about this. After all, he’s a former NFL defensive player who's a visual artist and historian. (Punches keypad)  Hey Pellom, did you know there’s $25,000 commission for a painting that commemorates the four …


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Leaning In All Directions

Leaning In All Directions

As he was rapping on the April 2016 “Tameness of the Wolf” episode for the FOX TV series, Empire, the Hakeem Lyons character reminded me of writer Toni Cade Bambara's call for another black arts movement (BAM). I don’t recall where Bambara made the remark, I just remember thinking that it was too soon to repeat that …


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E Jane

E Jane

What is black femme culture? Is there a single definition or does this umbrella term make reference to black feminists broadly, femme queer culture involving women of color specifically, femme aspects of gay male culture, or the many characteristics and long held customs of all black women more generally? In a recent commission, from …


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Chester Higgins, Jr., Harlem Spirit

Chester Higgins, Jr., Harlem Spirit

What beauty can you find in a single leaf blowing? What spirituality, lying still in bustling Harlem? Chester Higgins, Jr., artist, photographer and metaphysician shows us with his photograph, Harlem Spirit , on view at The Studio Museum of Harlem, N.Y., March 24 through June 26, 2016 as part of its Harlem Post Card series. Pleasing texture, …


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Fred Holland Dies at 65

Fred Holland Dies at 65

Fred Holland, who received recognition as a visual artist and choreographer over the course of his 65 years, died on March 5, 2016 of colon cancer.  Diagnosed with the illness in 2009, Holland lived to see the opening of Fred Holland,  SSAPMOC, on February 25 at Tilton Gallery in New York.  Not able to physically attend …


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Swizz Beatz Switching Hats

Swizz Beatz Switching Hats

Swizz Beatz wore his art hat when he told Hip Hop Wired about his contributions to Kanye West’s Life of Pablo album.  His literal art hat.     But when Beatz figuratively dons his art hat, he's worn caps with other words or no words — for example, when he donned his art hat to begin …


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Artists Organize Conversation in Celebration of Norman Lewis

Artists Organize Conversation in Celebration of Norman Lewis

A group of noted artists, coordinated by Lewis contemporary Richard Mayhew, gathered at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (PAFA) on March 12, 2016 in celebration of the life and career of their friend and colleague, Norman Lewis. Participants included artists Richard Mayhew, Richard Hunt, William T. Williams, Bette Blayton Taylor, Floyd …


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Conjuring Many Selves

Conjuring Many Selves

Internationally recognized, Washington, D.C. artist, Renée Stout is renowned for mixed-media installations based on conjure and other black folklife practices, voodoo and African traditions. Her prints, drawings and mixed media installations have been exhibited in the U.S., England, Russia and the Netherlands. She was awarded the High …


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Emma Amos Awarded Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award

Emma Amos Awarded Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award

At a February 26, 2016 ceremony, Emma Amos received the 2016 Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award from the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia. The award is for her contribution, as a Georgia native, to visual art. Since her debut art exhibition, in Atlanta in 1960, Amos has had a successful career in painting, …


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High Museum of Art Names Mark Bradford 2016 Recipient of David C. Driskell Prize

High Museum of Art Names Mark Bradford 2016 Recipient of David C. Driskell Prize

The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA., announced contemporary artist Mark Bradford the 2016 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize on February 18, 2016. Named for the renowned African-American artist and art scholar, the Driskell Prize was founded in 2005 as the first national award to recognize an early or mid-career scholar or artist whose …


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Vessels of the Soul

Vessels of the Soul

Hew Locke:  The Wine Dark Sea  February 24 – April 1, 2016 Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, New York Hew Locke, an Anglo-Guyanese artist who lives in Great Britain and spent his formative years in Guyana, consistently explores themes of race, colonialism, displacement, the creation of cultures, and the visual codes of power, drawing …


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The Agora Culture

The Agora Culture

Today’s vibrant art market, due in no small measure to the flourishing of contemporary art, is prompting long established art museums, celebrated collectors, gallerists and auctioneers to embrace the significance of this art category with renewed zeal. The promise of legions of new art collectors, donors, and art enthusiasts resulting …


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IRAAA Wish For You In 2016

IRAAA Wish For You In 2016

Many early 20th century “crazes” swirled around black folks. The “cake walk” dance craze extended all the way to British upper crust and the ragtime music craze was even more pervasive. The "postcard craze" of circa 1902-1915 rose from developments in the U.S. Postal Service, lithography and printing. For the first time …


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Richard Powell's Busy Fall Season

Richard Powell's Busy Fall Season

Fall 2015 was a busy season for Richard Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History and Dean of Humanities, Trinity College of Arts and Sciences at Duke University. Charlie Rose Interview Charlie Rose's interview with Richard Powell was broadcast on Rose’s December 6, 2015 PBS show. Their discussion of Archibald …


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Illuminating the Black Figure in the History of European Fine and Decorative Arts

Illuminating the Black Figure in the History of European Fine and Decorative Arts

Over the past five years in the U.S., a book series, a museum exhibition, and an anthology have illuminated a largely-unknown aspect of Western civilization. The book series, the five-volume,  Image of the Black in Western Art , based on the Menil Foundation project, was published by Harvard University Press and the W. E. B. …


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Queen B Visits Hammer Museum

Queen B Visits Hammer Museum

Beyoncé Knowles’ recent visit to the Hammer Museum was not for show.  That's to say, the visit probably was motivated by the singer's serious interest in visual art and not a handler's scheme to cast her in a trendy new light, now that entertainment celebrities often are seen at museum galas and exhibition openings. …


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All Too Human, Victorian Swag in Tow

All Too Human, Victorian Swag in Tow

If we close our eyes and recall images of black people from earlier centuries, what is imprinted in our memories?  Do we see elegance, dignity, refinement, beauty, intelligence—all facets of human subjectivity—among those used to tell the story of history and art in the West? Frederick Douglass in the 19th century, and W.E.B. …


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Call for Visual Art Submissions

Call for Visual Art Submissions

Nneena Freelon views the black washerwoman as a super hero of American history. The arduous work of making soap from ashes and lard, rubbing soiled clothes on a scrub board, boiling clothes in a large pot and stirring them with a stick, ironing them with a heavy flat iron heated on a fireplace or stove, hanging them up to dry, folding, packing …


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The Art of Delilah Pierce, Revealed!

The Art of Delilah Pierce, Revealed!

Three women artist friends in Washington, DC were reaching the peak of their careers in the 1970s.  For decades, these elder artists Lois Mailou Jones (1905-1998), Delilah Pierce (1904-1992) and Alma Thomas (1894-1978) worked hard to excel as painters and exhibit their work although African Americans, women and people living …


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Eldzier Cortor,  Jan. 10, 1916 - Nov. 26, 2015

Eldzier Cortor, Jan. 10, 1916 - Nov. 26, 2015

A memorial tribute for Eldzier Cortor will be held on December 21, 2015, beginning at 3:30, at the Frank Campbell Funeral Home on Madison and 81th Street in New York City.  Scheduled speakers: Teresa A. Carbone, Diane Dinkins Carr, SCAC board member; David Driskell, Corrine Jennings, Harmon and Harriet Kelley, Mark Pascale and Michael …


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Bearden, Basquiat & Usher Terry Raymond IV

Bearden, Basquiat & Usher Terry Raymond IV

In the 1980s, Romare Bearden and Jean-Michel Basquiat inhabited entirely different worlds. Romare Bearden spent much of his time in his Long Island City studio.  Becoming increasingly weak from bone cancer, he was intent upon completing his life’s work.  Bearden’s later life was a far remove from the hedonistic downtown …


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Norman Lewis, Artist, Visionary, Humanist

Norman Lewis, Artist, Visionary, Humanist

One of the most fascinating and storied chapters in the history of American art is the one on the New York School of Abstract Expressionism.   The highlights are familiar:  The New York School of Renegades rising in the era of McCarthyism. “A child or a monkey can do that!”  Sure , Jackson Pollack thought, slap dash …


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Philadelphia Story

Philadelphia Story

We Speak: Black Artists of Philadelphia 1920s – 1970s ,  September 26, 2015 – January 24, 2016,  Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA Much of the early history of African American art converges on Philadelphia.  One of the earliest African Americans to establish a reputation as an artist was Moses Williams.  …


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A Better Way of Policing

A Better Way of Policing

In response to shootings of police and by police, we revisit police chief and art collector William C. Robinson.  This article was originally posted here in Fall 2015.  The circumstances of the recent shootings and those described in this article are different, however Robinson's philosophy of policing is applicable to all …


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Swizz Beatz, Museum Trustee, Art Patron and Collector

Swizz Beatz, Museum Trustee, Art Patron and Collector

Swizz Beatz, Usher and Ludacris exemplify a trend among hip hop stars to bypass conspicuous bling consumption for the serious acquisition and promotion of visual art.  And Swizz Beatz (nee Kasseem Dean) is particularly fervent in spreading the love and knowledge of visual art among his cronies.  Recent developments in the hip …


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In Autumn

In Autumn

Autumn's raging beauty, piercing chill and fading light stir feelings in us all.  Landscapist Mason Archie is particularly responsive to the autumn weather and the viewer’s imagination easily travels into his scenes of this season. Come walk down a country road with the woman in Archie's Autumn # 4 painting.  The day is …


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See Them, Feel Them, Hear Them

See Them, Feel Them, Hear Them

Long before the deaths of Travon Martin, Eric Garner, and 12 year old Tamir Rice, the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in his own home, and National Book Award contender ( Between the World and Me , 2015) Ta-Nehisi Coates’ polemic on the hazards of being in a black male skin while negotiating American society, long before all of that, …


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A Great Art Collector and Patron's Life and Legacy

A Great Art Collector and Patron's Life and Legacy

The term “having heart” — living, working and pushing through challenges, with courage, passion and love — aptly applies to Sandra Baccus. At the heart of the term is “art” which also defines her life. Sandra Baccus touched many lives through her altruism and commitment to education and the arts. The David C. …


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 Stayin  Alive

Stayin Alive

In the 1990s there was a pronounced increase in the numbers of African Americans developing a serious interest in visual art.  They visited museums and formed friends groups to help the museums acquire works by master African American artists.  They subscribed to publications like Art in America , Art Forum and the IRAAA and purchased …


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A Textile Artist's Historical and Anthropological Mission

A Textile Artist's Historical and Anthropological Mission

Karen Hampton will tell you definitely, she is a textile artist, not a quilter. She believes herself to have won that battle. When she began weaving, more than 30 years ago, there were few African American female weavers. Considered an anomaly by many in the textile arts community, Hampton took on the challenge to prove that most weavers …


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Art  STEM Interface

Art STEM Interface

Artists have always been scientists. Ancient artists experimented with clays, plant dyes and resins to make paints and varnishes that would adhere to various surfaces and last for millennia. They researched and developed firing and glazing techniques for pottery and smelting techniques for bronze ornaments and statuary. They figured out ways to …


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Each Painting Becomes A Puzzle

Each Painting Becomes A Puzzle

Painter Erika Ranee is on the cusp of a second coming of sorts. After earning an MFA and a promising start to her career in the mid-1990s, she settled into a self-imposed hiatus for nearly a decade. During that period, she refrained from showing and re-emerged having replaced her figurative painting style with a new passion for …


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Portraiture[s] II Portraits

Portraiture[s] II Portraits

As Fall 2015 swept in with a big storm churning up the eastern seaboard, we thought, "What better time to take a final look at those four golden days last spring (May 28-May 31, 2015) when the Portraiture[s] II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging  Histories  conference was held in Florence Italy?"   Artists, curators, scholars …


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LaToya Ruby Frazier Receives 2015 MacArthur Award

LaToya Ruby Frazier Receives 2015 MacArthur Award

Photographer/video artist LaToya Ruby Frazier is among the 2015 MacArthur Award Fellows. Much of her work takes the form of black-and-white photography which, she says, “documents the intersection of the steel industry, environmental pollution and the health care crisis” in her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Frazier joins an …


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Art Now, Southern California

Art Now, Southern California

With its progressive and expansive "left coast" horizons, L.A. may soon beat out New York City — if it hasn’t already done so — in the amount and quality of art by African Americans that it shows.  Here’s a sampling of what’s been happening here during the summer and fall 2015 seasons. With his Resurfaced + …


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Kara Walker Named Tepper Chair at Mason Gross School of the Arts

Kara Walker Named Tepper Chair at Mason Gross School of the Arts

Kara Walker has been named Tepper Chair in Visual Arts at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Commencing Fall 2015, her five-year term is centered on research and collaboration with graduate and undergraduate students. Walker comes to the position from a strong family background in art college administration. Her …


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In and Out of the Studio

In and Out of the Studio

In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa (August 31, 2015 - January 3, 2016) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY presents 100 years of portrait photography in West Africa through nearly 80 photographs taken between the 1870s and the 1970s. These works, many of which are being shown for the first time, are drawn from …


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The Phenomenal Auction of a Phenomenal Woman's Collection

The Phenomenal Auction of a Phenomenal Woman's Collection

A few hours after Swann Galleries’ September 15, 2015 auction of the Maya Angelou collection, the writer and CUNY professor Michele Wallace reflected on the sale. She attended with her mother, Faith Ringgold. I had never attended a high-end art world auction before on the East Side of the Apple, much less sat in the front row with the …


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 'Reading' the Pastoral in the Art of Robert S. Duncanson

'Reading' the Pastoral in the Art of Robert S. Duncanson

  Born into slavery, Albery Allson Whitman (1851-1901) was acclaimed as the "Poet Laureate of the Negro Race.” He was a manual laborer, school teacher, financial agent, fundraiser and pastor as well as the author of Not a Man, and Yet A Man (1877),  The Rape of Florida (1884) and  An Idyl of the South: An Epic Poem in Two …


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A Big Dialogue Across Time

A Big Dialogue Across Time

During Noah Davis’ final illness, his friend and colleague Helen Molesworth occasionally found that she still had a large capacity for hope.  In retrospect, that capacity seems a bit like “magical thinking,” says Molesworth who is chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles. But Davis’ …


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Franklin Sirmans to Head Perez Museum

Franklin Sirmans to Head Perez Museum

Franklin Sirmans is leaving his position as Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to direct the Pérez Art Museum , a major art institution in Miami.   When he begins the new position on October 15, 2015, Sirmans, 46, will be among the miniscule number of …


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Noah Davis (born 1983) has passed on at his home in Ojai, California.  He had a rare form of cancer. After creating a body of paintings that have been compared to Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas and Neo Rauch , Davis expanded his artistry to three-dimensional forms — installation art and the ultimate form of 3D art, an artist project that …


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Adjaye's World Grows Wider

Adjaye's World Grows Wider

David Adjaye and the Competition for the Contract to Design the Barack Obama Presidential Center In reporting on Thelma Golden’s appointment to the board of the Barack Obama Foundation, the IRAAA+ traced connections between Golden, the Obamas and architect David Adjaye which reinforce speculation in the media that Adjaye is moving …


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Further Reflections On A Disgraced Show

Further Reflections On A Disgraced Show

In the August 20, 2015 New York Times article, "Lessons Learned From A Disgraced Show,"  art critic Holland Cotter reflects on his visit to an exhibition as a young man. In 1969 he was uninitiated to the concerns of the art establishment—black or white—but about to discover the hold art would have on his sensibilities and …


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Whitney Museum Presents Survey of Archibald Motley Paintings

Whitney Museum Presents Survey of Archibald Motley Paintings

The Whitney Museum of American Art will present Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, the first retrospective of this pioneering artist in New York City in more than two decades. The exhibition will be on view from October 2, 2015 through January 17, 2016 in the Hurst Family Galleries. Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art, …


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By Design 2015

By Design 2015

ArchiAfrika — Conversations with the Diaspora  The AIA of New York City Center for Architecture (AIANY) became the indaba (Zulu for “gathering place”) for the ArchiAfrika conference on July 31, 2015.  Bringing together more than 15 leading African American and African architects, designers, scholars and film makers, …


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Art On His Mind

Art On His Mind

Along with remembering Julian Bond as a great social activist, we recall his visual arts interest. New York art patron and collector Nancy L. Lane worked closely with Julian Bond when she was a member of the National Board of the NAACP. She recalls that Julian Bond and his spouse Pamela Horowitz collected art and that he took a particular …


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Carrie Mae Weems to Speak at National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Carrie Mae Weems to Speak at National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series September 12, 2015 at 2:00 pm East Building Auditorium For more than thirty years Carrie Mae Weems has made provocative, socially motivated art that examines issues of race, gender, and class inequality. Often producing serial or installation pieces, her conceptually layered work employs a variety of …


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One Boss, A Picture of Our Time

One Boss, A Picture of Our Time

On occasion a photo stops us in our tracks. Does the person in the picture stand in for a universally understood type or social condition? Or, are the traits and signs we read in the picture to be understood as something fundamental about humanity in our time? One Boss—a photograph of a man with the phrase “ONE BOSS NIGGER” …


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Finding The Hidden Talent

Finding The Hidden Talent

Although he is not an art historian, Jerry Langley has made significant contributions to the history of African American art by conducting research and writing seminal articles on accomplished but overlooked artists. His training and experience as an attorney, he discovered, carried over into art historiography.  Searching public …


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Survey Finds African Americans Under Represented in Art Museum Professions

Survey Finds African Americans Under Represented in Art Museum Professions

A survey released on July 29, 2015 confirms what we already know: African Americans are greatly under-represented in mainstream art museums as directors, curators, conservators and educators. Whites occupy 84% of such positions; Asians 6%; blacks 4%; Hispanic whites 3%.  These were among the findings of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation …


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Thelma Golden Joins Obama Foundation Board

Thelma Golden Joins Obama Foundation Board

The appointment of Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, to the board of directors of the Barack Obama Foundation is not a surprise. She was among three new board appointees announced by the Foundation on July 30, 2015. The connections leading up Golden's appointment have been developing for years. The announcement of the …


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Round the Way Girl and Her Worldly Ways

Round the Way Girl and Her Worldly Ways

Joyce J. Scott refers to her self as a “round the way girl.”  Despite international recognition for her beautiful, fearlessly edgy art, she’s that girl down the street who maintains a deep affinity for her city. She’s lived in Baltimore, Maryland her entire life.  When Freddie Grey was murdered, she was at her …


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A Magic Carpet for Visual Dreaming

A Magic Carpet for Visual Dreaming

  And I plan to USE this beautiful drawing table — a work of art in itself that cost me $230 — as a magic carpet for visual dreaming every week. — Charles Johnson Novelist, essayist, philosopher and visual artist Charles Johnson has revealed himself from many angles during the past 12-month period with the …


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Art for Life Gala Raises 1.2 Million

Art for Life Gala Raises 1.2 Million

  Art saves lives.  This simple statement is the powerful premise of Russell and Danny Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation (RPAF).   Encouraging young people, particularly those in difficult and impoverished circumstances, to enter other worlds through art is an established principle in education, …


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MoMA Commemorates the Great Migration in Film

MoMA Commemorates the Great Migration in Film

Over the decades the most outstanding or the most kitsch (occasionally both) forms of popular culture have become viewed as museum-quality art.  It’s a process of nostalgia and artistry that has a counterpart in the gravitation of 1950s and ‘60s doowop groups from Top 40 AM radio to PBS specials. Film was one of the earliest …


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Adjaye's New Building For The Studio Museum In Harlem

Adjaye's New Building For The Studio Museum In Harlem

David Adjaye, the international and interdisciplinary architect of Ghanaian-British origins, continues to deepen his affiliation with the art and museum worlds. His design for the Ghana National Museum on Slavery and Freedom is a veritable Cubist sculpture. That museum is expected to open in 2017.  As part of the Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smith …


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LACMA Brings Noah Purifoy Out Of The Desert

LACMA Brings Noah Purifoy Out Of The Desert

Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada (June 7 - September 27, 2015) at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LACMA), the first major museum exhibition since the father of the California Assemblage School's death in 2004, is both a visual and cerebral tour de force. This is fitting for an artist whose work consists of equal parts—art, …


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Photographing 52nd Street

Photographing 52nd Street

What was to become one of the most famous photographs in jazz history was shot in the middle of a New York City street by William P. Gottlieb on a rainy night in May 1948.  Swing Street it was called, 52nd Street, a legendary site in jazz history because all the jazz greats of the 1930s and '40s played there.  Only Art Kane’s …


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Wang Dang Doodlin

Wang Dang Doodlin

 Once the spirit inhabits it, then we have a painting. — Frederick J. Brown In the 1970s and early ‘80s, Fred Brown (1945-2012) interacted with all kinds of avant garde artists in New York City and particularly jazz musicians such as Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton, Charlie Haden and Alice Coltrane.  Because of a …


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The Porter Colloquium Turns 25

The Porter Colloquium Turns 25

The James A. Porter Colloquium on African American art at Howard University turned 25 this year! Founded in 1990 by Floyd Coleman, then art history department chair at Howard, the colloquium is the leading forum covering both the history and contemporary criticism of this art.   The colloquium was named after James A. Porter who …


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A Case of Mistaken Identity

A Case of Mistaken Identity

In this unassuming photographic reproduction of what appears to be a stock genre scene of a fisherman at work, we also see an interesting confluence of photography, art and art history. From Howard University we find a photo of an artwork attributed to one if its celebrated professors — the art historian and artist James A. Porter …


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Looking Back in Front with Mark Steven Greenfield

Looking Back in Front with Mark Steven Greenfield

It’s a wide, wide world for artist Mark Steven Greenfield.  Its rhythms range from the drumming of Afro-Brazilian religion to the chants of mantra-based meditation; its inspirations, from the comics to the cosmos, from history to futurism; and its concerns, from gang violence to climate change.    He is currently working on …


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Onward Fo!

Onward Fo!

It is clear after talking to Fo Wilson that she will not be bound by convention or profession. She had a graphic design studio in a large, beautifully designed space in Tribeca, a staff of assistants, and exceptional clients, but gave it all up to catch her breath and head in another direction. Relocating to a small studio in Emeryville, …


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Anna J. Cooper at Home in Le Droit Park

Anna J. Cooper at Home in Le Droit Park

In The Scurlock Studio, Picturing the Promise and Black Washington , historians Deborah Willis and Lonnie G. Bunch III say that the Studio's photographs were an integral part of the New Negro Movement and an effective counter-narrative to racial imagery about blacks prevalent in early to mid-20th century media. Geroge Scurlock's 1934 photograph …


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Wangechi Mutu Rallies Massive Support from Artists

Wangechi Mutu Rallies Massive Support from Artists

Mother Africa, see what your children are doing! On June 5, 2015 in the bosom of Chelsea’s burgeoning art district, Gladstone Gallery hosted the inaugural Africa’s Out! benefit, a fundraising auction of works by a galactic host of artists.  The event was in support of Africa’s Out!, the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, …


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Scurlock Studio: Theatre of Desire

Scurlock Studio: Theatre of Desire

Every urban African American community had one: an artist in residence who portrayed the people in the ways that they envisioned themselves, in contradistinction to the mocking caricatures produced by others. These community photogaphers included James Van der Zee in Harlem, P. H. Polk in Tuskegee, Charles "Teenie" Harris in Pittsburgh and the …


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As The Tree Falls

As The Tree Falls

Work by Ebony G. Patterson on view at Lux Art Institute April 30 - May 30, 2015 During her month-long residency at Lux Art Institute in Solana Beach, CA, Ebony Patterson embellished blankets with her signature materials of fabric, glitter and costume jewelry. The shiny appliqué relief comprises the last step in a multi-phase creative …


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The New Vision for New York's Former Museum for African Art

The New Vision for New York's Former Museum for African Art

On May 19, 2015 The Africa Center announced that Dana Reed, CEO of Pan African Investment Co ., has been elected to its Board of Trustees. With her impressive experience in capital management and investing banking, Reed is well-positioned to help the Center meet its capital campaign goals and finally open. This and other recent announcements by …


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Auction Records Set for Hendricks, Gilliam, Jones and Driskell

Auction Records Set for Hendricks, Gilliam, Jones and Driskell

The first auction house to devote an entire department to African American art, Swann Galleries established the first significant auction records for Romare Bearden and for artists such as Charles White ($300,000) who had underperformed in the seondary market. In researching the provenance of the works that it offers, Swann also is …


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Post Cards From Firenze

Post Cards From Firenze

The "Post Cards From Firenze" documentation initially was planned as a way for participants in the Black Portraiture{s} II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories conference to share moments from their experience in Florence (Firenze), Italy with IRAAA readers. However, we knew that the conference experience would be all-consuming for …


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Post Cards From Florence

Post Cards From Florence

External photo: Washington DC attorney and art collector Schwanda Rountree. Photo: Courtesy New York University. Photo by Riccardo Cavallari for NYU. The IRAAA+ "Post Cards From Firenze" documentation initially was planned as a way for a few participants in the  Black Portraiture{s} II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories …


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Behind the Scenes of the Black Portraitures Conference

Behind the Scenes of the Black Portraitures Conference

 Note: For a broad sampling of images in curator Awam Amkpa's ReSignifications exhibition , see this article .  A number of images in the article below are from his previous exhibitions) The Long Run Up to the Conference For Awam Amkpa and Robert Holmes, two of the organizers of the May 29-May 31, 2015 Black Portraitures conference in …


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A Blackamoor is not a Jigaboo and More

A Blackamoor is not a Jigaboo and More

In a momentous event in the history of African Diaspora visual culture studies, more than 200 scholars, curators, independent writers, artists, photographers and other arts professionals from the African Diaspora are gathering to make presentations at the Black Portraiture[s] II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories  conference …


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Adrian Piper and El Anatsui Win Major Awards at the Venice Biennale

Adrian Piper and El Anatsui Win Major Awards at the Venice Biennale

Adrian Piper and El Anatsui received the Golden Lion, the major award of the Venice Biennale’s  All The World's Futures art exhibition on May 9, 2015.  Among the jurors for awards was Naomi Beckwith, the former Studio Museum in Harlem curator who is now a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. In …


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On Cultural Intimidation

On Cultural Intimidation

At one time, the concept of “cultural deprivation” was used to describe a major challenge to social mobility. Poor black people were "culturaly deprived." That concept became obsolete in the mid-to-late 1960s, when African Americans and other peoples of color asserted the value of their own ethnocultural heritages.  In …


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A Garden Party for Art

A Garden Party for Art

Get out your most imaginative attire and join us in the garden alive with colorful plants and flowers, live music, dancing, great food and wonderful guests. One hundred percent of the ticket proceeds will be used to keep the foundation’s mission alive…. “The difficult we’ll do right now, the impossible will take a …


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Making Art of Song

Making Art of Song

Because the essence of a people or an era is distilled in its art, popular music playlists have been called “the sound track of our lives.” For Walter Lobyn Hamilton, a 30-year old artist whose work has most recently been featured on the set of the Fox television hit, Empire, this distillation occurs in vinyl recordings of …


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Clyde B. Jones III To Lead Met Museum Advancement

Clyde B. Jones III To Lead Met Museum Advancement

With a staff of 90 fundraising professionals who oversee a range of development and membership activities, as well as special events, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's development department succeeds in the art of the “ask.”  And now that work will be overseen by Clyde B. Jones III, whose knack for raising funds for health …


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The Museum as Social Worker and Agent for Change

The Museum as Social Worker and Agent for Change

Johnnetta Betsch Cole was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the American Alliance of Museums (formerly the American Association of Museums) in Atlanta, April 26-29, 2015. This year’s meeting theme was “Social Value of Museums: Inspiring Change.” An anthropologist, museum director and educator who has mentored …


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Derrick Adams Brings A Practical Edge to Conceptual Art

Derrick Adams Brings A Practical Edge to Conceptual Art

Derrick Adams (b. 1970) is a multidisciplinary artist working in performance, painting, sculpture and music. His latest solo project is at Aljira Center for Contemporary Art in Newark.  Derrick Adams: THE HOLDOUT — A Social Sculpture with Curated Music Program organized by Dexter Wimberly, consisted of a large-scale, …


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Variant Expressions

Variant Expressions

The special architecture issue of the print IRAAA journal (v. 25, no. 2, 2015) includes David P. Brown’s essay on the improvisatory aspects of architect Phil Freelon’s designs and drawings. Freelon's design approach begins in hand drawings which are a fluid expression of his thought processes. In another article in the issue,  …


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Joseph Clinton DeVillis

Joseph Clinton DeVillis

There are numerous African American artists who were born in the 19th century, received formal art training, developed considerable skill, and passed on without achieving a lasting recognition. Some such as Joseph Clinton DeVillis (1878-1912) and his painting, Girl of Morocco , are truly remarkable. Completed before or during 1905, Girl of …


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The Creative Power of Empathy

The Creative Power of Empathy

"A painting is not about an experience. It is an experience."  To this observation by Mark Rothko, Elizabeth Catlett would say a hearty “amen.” Like Rothko, Catlett’s artistic philosophy and social awareness were melded during the WPA era.  Unlike Rothko, Catlett, thoughout her life, intended her art to be a moving …


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Happy Unique Youday, Lady Day

Happy Unique Youday, Lady Day

Billie Holiday was born on April 7, 100 years ago, in Baltimore Maryland.  If she were living today, she'd be a contrary centenarian singing the reply to "How old are you?" in the "Happy Birthday to You" song. She'd cock her head slightly to the side and use her worn, creaky, brittle voice to make artistry out of idiosyncrasy like she did …


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Divas Rock Empowering Masks

Divas Rock Empowering Masks

We sing, but oh the clay is vile/Beneath our feet, and long the mile/ But let the world dream otherwise, /We wear the mask! —  Paul Lawrence Dunbar This excerpt from "We Wear the Mask" on Margaret Rose Vendryes’ website serves as the perfect introduction for her African Divas series.  This divas sing gloriously but the …


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An Artist of the Past Who You Should Know

An Artist of the Past Who You Should Know

He was blessed from the start with a surname that augured his talent and profession. William Artis was passing off the scene just as the IRAAA  — then called Black Art an international quarterly (BAQ) — was entering it.  BAQ was completing its first year of publication when William Artis was remembered in the Summer 1977 …


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Cullen Washington On Surpassing Boundaries

Cullen Washington On Surpassing Boundaries

Over the past six years, Cullen Washington’s work has evolved from figurative and figurative abstraction on canvas into a fully abstracted, large-scale form of assemblage. Washington's work is presented in one and two person shows and receives thoughtful criticism. His first international show was Black Moon Rising at the Jack Bell …


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Achibald Motley's Chicago

Achibald Motley's Chicago

Richard J. Powell, curator, Archibald Motley: A Jazz Age Modernist , presented a lecture on March 6, 2015 at the preview of the exhibition that will be on view until August 31, 2015 at the Chicago Cultural Center. A full audience was in attendance at the Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater for the lecture. Powell is the John Bassett …


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All is Fair in Love and Art Criticism?

All is Fair in Love and Art Criticism?

A Sexually Predatory Cover? Or Exquisitely Wrought Art with Academic Reference and Contemporary Relevance? Does recent commentary about Kehinde Wiley cross the line from critical analysis to tirade and character assassination? A firestorm of reaction and commentary recently erupted online and elsewhere among arts professionals and the general …


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The Nigger Head Deep In All Of Our Heads

The Nigger Head Deep In All Of Our Heads

Despite the advancement of colored people, the nigger continues to rear its three (or more) heads: The grotesque head , most notably, recently, on the University of Oklahoma frat bus. The paradoxical head in pop culture; rap music, in particular.  The sarcastic head in African American visual art. The_________ (fill in the blank). The …


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Missus Walker's Curious Traveling Exposition at the Driskell Center

Missus Walker's Curious Traveling Exposition at the Driskell Center

Since Kara Walker’s groundbreaking art captured our attention in the mid-1990s, her admirers and critics have been debating the meaning of her silhouettes, her sculpture, even her statements.  Last year when I walked into the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn and initially saw A Subtlety , her mammoth Negroid sphinx, I was speechless. …


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Math Artist Celebrates Pi Day

Math Artist Celebrates Pi Day

Math and art became definitively connected in the  IRAAA  when mathematician turned math artist John Sims guest edited the “Rhythm of Structure” issue of the journal in 2004. A nerd from the hood,  Sims can dance just as good as he can count.  He demonstrates both skills on a music video that he issued on …


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The Cooper Gallery of Harvard University

The Cooper Gallery of Harvard University

A place where you can nourish and reflect and restore yourself. — Vera Grant In November 2014 Harvard University reopened its triad of university art museums under a single roof as envisioned by renowned architect Renzo Piano. The university’s momentous art season began with a gala preview opening of the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of …


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Elizabeth Catlett, 100 Years

Elizabeth Catlett, 100 Years

This year, three major exhibitions commemorate the centenary of Elizabeth Catlett (April 15, 1915-April 2, 2012). Elizabeth Catlett: A Celebration of 100 Years at the Hampton University Museum, January 30, 2015 - November 14, 2015 ELIZABETH CATLETT at the Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans, April 11 - July 30, 2015 The Art of Elizabeth Catlett …


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Hobson & Lucas At Scope Art Fair

Hobson & Lucas At Scope Art Fair

On March 7, 2015, Star Wars film director and Strange Magic producer George Lucas and his partner, Mellody Hobson, chair of Ariel Investments, attended the SCOPE NYC Art Show and purchased a powerfully poignant piece by Kristine Mays: four dresses fashioned from wire representing the four girls who perished in the 1963 church bombing in …


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Artists to Make Sense of the State of Things

Artists to Make Sense of the State of Things

Curator Okwui Enwezor's plan for the International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale (May 9 – November 22, 2015) vigorously engages art with geopolitics and economics. Not long before Enwezor’s October 22, 2014 announcement of his exhibition theme, the world had witnessed constant upheavals: the Ebola outbreak and ensuing …


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Failure's Lessons for Success

Failure's Lessons for Success

As a visual arts professional, she has a broad range of interests from to 19th century history to the tip of the contemporary edge. She’s also has multiple roles— curator, professor, art foundation advisor, art and education policy wonk, and critic (whose essays have been published in The New Yorker , Artforum , Art in America and …


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Who's At The Fair?

Who's At The Fair?

  When the original Armory Show (the International Exposition of Modern Art) was held in New York in 1913, the black presence in the show was very limited (but consequential): the African art that captivated American avant grade artists and collectors and the African-influenced works of the European Cubists.   What a difference 102 …


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Architecture & Design

Architecture & Design

Obama Presidential Library Site to be Announced in March 2015 The Barack Obama Presidential Library Foundation is slated to announce the decision for the location of the library by the end of the March 2015.  Three cities associated with the president — Honolulu, New York (where he completed his undergraduate degree) and Chicago …


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And Still She Rises

And Still She Rises

As a visual arts professional, she has a broad range of interests from to 19th century history to the tip of the contemporary edge. She’s also has multiple roles— curator, professor, art foundation advisor, art and education policy wonk, and critic (whose essays have been published in The New Yorker , Artforum , Art in America and …


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Afropunk ABCs

Afropunk ABCs

The Afropunk Festival debuted in 2004 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The music and cultural festival is the brainchild of music industry vet Matthew Morgan and filmmaker James Spooner. In 2003, with their first collaboration, a fro-punk , a documentary film spotlighting black punks in America, the duo tapped into a cultural …


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Art In Southern California

Art In Southern California

In the Fall 2014 issue of IRAAA, Daniel Grant describes the increased demand in the art market for works by African Americans. While the works of modern artists like Norman Lewis and Romare Bearden now command higher prices at auctions, contemporary artists are receiving greater attention in mainstream galleries and museums. Several solo …


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We, Both Witnesses and the Dream

We, Both Witnesses and the Dream

  On the morning of January 1, 2015, artist Vandorn Hinnant and his partner, AnaMaria, drew the "The Seed of Life" pattern into the sand at Wrightsville beach, NC.  Hinnant says this configuration is the heart of the "Flower of  Life" pattern that was advanced several decades ago by Drunvalo Melchezidek, a scholar of …


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Yale Mourns Passing of Robert Reed

Yale Mourns Passing of Robert Reed

ROBERT REED MEMORIAL A memorial/celebration honoring Professor Robert Reed will take place at the School of Art on April 11, 2015, from 2-5pm at the School’s 32 Edgewood Gallery . Those planning to attend should rsvp to: Natalie.Westbrook@yale.edu . A scholarship fund in honor of Robert Reed has been established. Memorial …


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The Progression of Arem Duplessis

The Progression of Arem Duplessis

When people start working for Apple, they disappear behind a clean, white, impeccably lit wall—clean like the techno surfaces of the company’s product packaging — and covert like the FBI (but the FBI wall is tan, and scuffed at the bottom). Arem Duplessis went to work as a creative director behind that pristine wall at 1 …


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Titus Kaphar's Time Magazine Commission

Titus Kaphar's Time Magazine Commission

With a timely magazine commission and an installation at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Titus Kaphar currently is receiving high visibility for his work related to policing and incaration in this country. TIME commissioned Kaphar to portray the Ferguson protestors who, collectively, were chosen as one of four runners-up for TIME's 2014 …


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Mississippi Homecoming

Mississippi Homecoming

The Yale MFA program could occupy an entire chapter in a future history of African American art and Felandus Thames would likely hold a prominent place within it. Noted African American, Yale MFA graduates from the 1960s include Howardena Pindell, William T. Williams, and Bob Reed, who joined the Yale art faculty and has become a campus legend …


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Redemption Song

Redemption Song

 This article was written and posted in November 2014.  Therefore it does not take into account later revelations relating to the allegations about Bill Cosby and the court deposition and arraignment of Cosby. Bill and Camille Cosby, their friends and associates, the living artists whose work they have collected, their art advisor …


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Commentary on the Commentary

Commentary on the Commentary

As controversies swirl around the Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue  exhibition, art historian and museum educator John Welch joined the critical conversation. This article is the first of two commentaries on the exhibition.  While this initial article takes issue with points made in a review of the …


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Design for International African American Museum

Design for International African American Museum

Curt Moody opened his own architectural firm with a two-person staff, and never dreamed that it would become one of the most respected architectural firms in the nation and the largest African American-owned architectural firm in the country. In September 2014, Moody Nolan was awarded the International Architecture Award for its work on the new …


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On Digital Journeying from the Inside and Out

On Digital Journeying from the Inside and Out

When artists marry their shared life can be tumultuous (Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera) or disastrous (Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, Ike and Tina, Bobby and Whitney)— or creatively synergetic and lasting like the marriage of Jacob and Gwen Knight Lawrence, Alice and John Coltrane, Ruby and Ossie, and, fingers crossed, Bey and Jay. …


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Interface of Blackface and Black Love

Interface of Blackface and Black Love

100 Years in Post-Production: Resurrecting a Lost Landmark of Black Film History at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC On November 8, 2014 the Museum of Modern Art screened  Bert Williams Lime Kiln Club Field Day , 101-year-old film footage from the earliest known feature film made with black actors. The screening, a world premiere, is …


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Zoe Whitley's Art World

Zoe Whitley's Art World

Zoe Whitley is an American curator in London whose profile rose considerably in her homeland when she co-organized with Naima J. Keith, The Shadows Took Shape, the 2013-14 exhibition on Afrofuturism at the Studio Museum in Harlem that attracted large broad media attention.   She currently is assisting with the Tate Modern's …


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Bad Faith and Universal Technique

Bad Faith and Universal Technique

Mike Cloud has not been seduced by conceptual art.  That is not to say there is not a conceptual framework to his aesthetic. It appears that he has taken a most challenging approach to his creative instinct, engaging the intersection of concept and emotion to animate ideas in his work. The first idea one encounters at the entrance to Mike …


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Senga Nengudi

Senga Nengudi

In the early 1970s, Senga Nengudi was among a small vanguard of African American artists who were exploring forms of conceptual art and performance art as part of their search for an African American aesthetic. These artists looked at black musicians to understand how they were using European instruments as tools to develop new and creative …


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 Bright Star at Night

Bright Star at Night

The Detroit art community lost an irreplaceable member, Gilda Snowden (b. 1954) — painter, sculptor and educator — to heart failure on Tuesday, September 9, 2014.  She taught at the College for Creative Studies as professor of fine arts for 31-years, and previously at Wayne State University.  Her work is installed in many …


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Ndebele Commission at the VMFA

Ndebele Commission at the VMFA

In May 2014, when Richard Woodward boarded a plane for a 14-hour flight to South Africa, his long-shot idea was moving closer to probability.  Woodward, curator of African art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA), envisioned Ndebele murals being created at the Richmond museum by the foremost Ndebele artist, herself.  The …


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The Artist Lovingly Known As EJ

The Artist Lovingly Known As EJ

Evangeline J. Montgomery, lovingly known as EJ, has had many roles in American culture, particularly the multi-layered facets of African American art. Montgomery, now 84, has been a printmaker, a metal and fiber artist, museum worker, curator, arts administrator and mentor.  And she has always stepped forward as a spirited activist. But …


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Deborah Grant, A Master of Reinvention

Deborah Grant, A Master of Reinvention

"I wanted to examine the idea of constant information bombardment or the chaos in the back of our minds juxtaposed with what is happening physically in front of us."       — Deborah Grant, interview with the author, August 4, 2014 Peering into the pictures of New York-based artist Deborah Grant is akin to viewing the …


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Kongo across the Waters

Kongo across the Waters

In the 1950s millions of Americans saw Desi Arnez beat the conga drum and chant Ba-ba-lou! during his night club act on “I Love Lucy.” That’s how deep the Kongolese legacy had seeped into American culture without most people knowing that it had. The people who could connect that pop cultural moment back to its Afro-Cuban …


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i found god in myself

i found god in myself

In December 1974, Ntozake Shange and four other women peformed a poetry and dance piece in a women’s bar near Berkeley CA that contributed to the formation a burgeoning, self-affirming, literary movement for black women. But during the 1976-1978 Broadway run of Shange's for colored girls who've  considered suicide/when the …


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Wiley's Latest World Stage Project

Wiley's Latest World Stage Project

“Right now our deepest challenge has to do with evoking a vocabulary that is just as effective at being free as it is at being bound" — Kehinde Wiley Kehinde Wiley made this frank admission to  IRAAA in 2005. At that time when the culturati were still ruminating about the “post black” concept, Wiley straddled …


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Race, Love and Labor

Race, Love and Labor

Since 1999, nearly 100 artists of color working in the photographic arts have created images during summer residencies at the Center for Photography in Woodstock (CPW) and have donated prints to the Center’s permanent collection.  The exhibition, Race, Love, and Labor: New Work from the Center for Photography at Woodstock’s …


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Applying Art Criticism to Unpack Social Issues

Applying Art Criticism to Unpack Social Issues

The top two images shown here were created to raise funds for the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial fund. The proliferation of artwork produced in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting is reminder of one role that those of us in the art community can play in the pursuit of social justice.   Another role is one uniquely suited to the …


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An Art Critic on Diversity

An Art Critic on Diversity

The UK has been the springboard for the international careers of black British artists and curators such as Chris Ofili (winner of the Turner Prize, the highest award given to a British visual artist), Yinka Shonibare (short listed for the Turner Prize), Steve McQueen (the noted 12 Years a Slave director studied art and design in London, …


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Jefferson Steps Down From CAAM

Jefferson Steps Down From CAAM

On July 18, 2014, Charmaine Jefferson stepped down as executive director of the California African American Museum (CAAM). After 11 years of exemplary service she decided to return full time to private consulting work through her company, Kelan Resources.  Among other things, she’ll provide advice to organizations and institutions …


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Hair Raising Talk

Hair Raising Talk

On July 17, 2014, the audience at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond was treated to a lively discussion between Sonya Clark and Robert Pruitt, artists represented in the Identity Shifts: Works from VMFA  (April 26- July 27, 2014). The conversation was moderated by Sarah Eckhardt, the VMFA curator who organized the …


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Holton Appointed to Permanent Position at Driskell Center

Holton Appointed to Permanent Position at Driskell Center

The University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities has announced the appointment of Curlee R. Holton as the permanent executive director of the David C. Driskell Center for the  Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora  and senior artist-in-residence in the Department of Art.   …


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Eclectic Bright Matter

Eclectic Bright Matter

Some how she makes it work — makes it all come together as art worthy of display in one-person shows at noted galleries and major museums.  That’s the electic art of Shinique Smith: combos of swatches of polyester-looking fabric, Japanese calligraphy, graffiti tags, acrylic painting done in a swirling, kaleidoscopic style; and …


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Update to MAD Article

Update to MAD Article

  Update : After the article below was posted in July 2014, MAD provided press images for the show and we were pleased to note that Joyce J. Scott is continuing her Buddha series. When IRAAA first reported on the series in 1996, Joyce Scott described her beaded sculpture, Buddha Supports Shiva Awakening the Races , 1992, which was …


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Case Model for Reviving a Struggling Arts Organization

Case Model for Reviving a Struggling Arts Organization

Sometimes a business professional, not an arts professional, can be the best “fixer” to turn around a struggling arts organization.  Such is the case with Sonya Halpern, the new board chair of the National Black Arts Festival (NBAF) in Atlanta.   Once a major cultural venue, the NBAF, in recent years, has been …


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Remembering A Noted Art Historian, Gallery Director and Educator

Remembering A Noted Art Historian, Gallery Director and Educator

Art historian Tritobia Hayes Benjamin recognized as one of the leading authorities on African American women artists and author of the Life and Art of Lois Mailou Jones , died on June 21 after an extended illness. Benjamin served Howard University with distinction for 42 years, from her initial appointment as a member of the faculty in 1970, …


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Inferno to Paradiso

Inferno to Paradiso

Good things come to those who wait. Conceived about a decade ago, The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory Revisited by Contemporary African Artists,  finally has taken form at the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfort, Germany and is on view through July 27, 2014. The heaven/hell dichotomy is apt for Africa — nations ravaged by …


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Anatomy of a Painting

Anatomy of a Painting

Between 1915 and 1970, more than 6 million African-Americans moved out of the South to cities across the Northeast, Midwest and West. This relocation — called the Great Migration — resulted in massive demographic shifts across the United States. Between 1910 and 1930, cities such as New York, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland saw their …


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Ken Montague Talks with Trevor Schoonmaker

Ken Montague Talks with Trevor Schoonmaker

Kenneth Montague,  a Toronto-based art collector and founder/director of Wedge Curatorial Projects in conversation with Trevor Schoonmaker, chief curator and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, March 9, 2014.  Moderated by …


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Posing Beauty and More

Posing Beauty and More

Posing Beauty in African American Culture and Identity Shifts , April 26 - July 27, 2014; Signs of Protest: Photographs from the Civil Rights Era , Jan. 1 - September 7, 2014; States of Change in Africa , April 26-July 2, 2014, in the Evans Court, outside the African Galleries. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Four African American- and …


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Gone With The Meditation

Gone With The Meditation

New York-based artist Simone Leigh’s solo,  Gone South exhibition, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, April 4-May 31, 2014, immediately grabs the viewer’s attention with the large scale of her pieces. She uses hard ridge elements of metal and glass juxtaposed against soft, rounded, mostly earth-toned, textured …


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Public Art Tribute to Maggie Walker

Public Art Tribute to Maggie Walker

Maggie Walker Commemorative Art Update: Over 90 artist entries for the City of Richmond's Maggie Walker public art commission were reviewed by the site selection team. The finalists came to Richmond present their public art proposals and a final selection will be made in early 2015.  The estimated commission budget is $300,000. The …


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Eric Mack, E=mc2

Eric Mack, E=mc2

UPDATE TO ARTICLE: In early June 2014, the acquisitions committee of Atlanta's High Museum accepted curator Michael Rook's recommendation that the museum acquire a painting by Eric Mack for the permanent collection.  In announcing the acquisition of Mack's SRFC-91, Rooks said:  "I recommended Eric’s drawing firstly because it is …


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Meet the Obuobis, Yaw and Sharon

Meet the Obuobis, Yaw and Sharon

Sharon Obuobi divides her time between New York and Ghana which is her springboard for travels through West Africa. But, in aiming to connect her strong, lifelong interest in visual art to African empowerment, her bailiwick is really the whole wide African diasporic world. To make the connection, she constantly employs multiple forms of social …


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David Driskell Delivers Inspirational Talk

David Driskell Delivers Inspirational Talk

It was a sermon, if ever there was one — a gospel of art. The "spiritual," soul enriching qualities of creating, viewing and collecting visual art was a recurring theme of the talk presented by David Driskell at the Hampton University Museum on April 5, 2014.  The occasion was the Curator’s Tea held in connection with the …


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Both Sides Now, Historian & Artist

Both Sides Now, Historian & Artist

At first glance, the followers of Nell Irvin Painter’s illustrious career as a historian would think she could rest on her many laurels as she faced 70.  But Painter harbored a secret passion.  And, now these followers and new ones in the arts are watching her fulfill the connotation of her surname: Nell Painter is now …


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Edging Further Out in Charlotte

Edging Further Out in Charlotte

The Barker came for me. “She needs you inside,” he said. I went and entered the 10-foot high tent suspended from the ceiling in one of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture’s galleries. There was a lot of nervous chatter outside but the moment I entered it all disappeared. The tent’s plush, red …


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African Axis

African Axis

  All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses.  And to die is different from what anyone supposed, and  luckier. —Walt Whitman, from  Song of Myself   Which way is Mecca?  When is Easter five years from now?  When is it best to plant? How does astrophysicist Thebe Medupe reckon with his South …


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Called To Witness

Called To Witness

The romance of Western civilization emerged from the on-going, retelling of great stories of artistic, social, intellectual and political upheaval — the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the industrial revolution, the scientific revolutions of Darwin and Freud and the cultural revolutions of modernism in the arts. People of color were …


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Opens Spring

Opens Spring

IRAAA+  invited Lilian Burwell to help us celebrate the end of a severe winter with this imagery of awakening and renewal.   Burwell is a painter and 3-D artist whose large works take the form of sinuous shapes carved out of the wood over which she stretches the canvas which becomes the ground for the painting.   She …


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Sirius Play

Sirius Play

This article is one in a IRAAA+ series linking art and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).   Demetrius Oliver often draws from astronomy in developing themes for his installation and video art.  In his early career, he created photo collages on themes such as Emmett Till and the Underground Railroad which directly …


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Way To Go

Way To Go

If Tina Dunkley had been in charge of celestial arrangements, the sweet chariot swinging low to carry Richard A. Long home would have been in the form of his 1974 yellow Datsun.  Her longtime friend and colleague did pass on peacefully of natural causes at age 86,  at his home and, in the African tradition of honoring the deceased one …


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The Suppression of Dark Beauty and the Rise of Lupita Nyong'o

The Suppression of Dark Beauty and the Rise of Lupita Nyong'o

Concerned about the bias against African features in the perception of black women’s beauty —  a form of social oppression that is aesthetic — visual artists countered this bias with so many delineations of dark women’s beauty during the second half of the 20th century that such imagery finally became a …


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Artist Terry Adkins and the Fisk University Legacy

Artist Terry Adkins and the Fisk University Legacy

When she learned about the transition of Terry Adkins, Hermine Pinson recalled their undergraduate years at Fisk University as the basis of a memorial tribute to him.  Terry Adkins (May 9, 1953 – February 8, 2014) was a noted multimedia and performance artist and professor of fine arts in the School of Design at the University of …


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Bennie's Picks 2013

Bennie's Picks 2013

McArthur Binion: Ghost: Rhythms , Kavi Gupta, Chicago, Apr 6 – Jun 22, 2013 , focused on the artist's early career in 1970s New York City. Like many of his peers, Binion was influenced by the Abstract Expressionists and had   McArthur Binion: Ghost: Rhythms , Kavi Gupta, Chicago, Apr 6 – Jun 22, 2013 ,  focused on the …


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2015 News and Events

2015 News and Events

Johnson's Cartoons Encourage Our Kids' Interest in Science and Technology Charles Johnson (National Book Award and MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient) began to develop drawing skills in his adolescence and now, in later life, is sharpening those skills by illustrating the Adventures of Emery Jones, Boy Science Wonder series of books …


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Born in the USA

Born in the USA

In the late 1970s-early ‘80s, the conception of a “melting pot” America (a melded, homogenous cultural ideal) gave way to “multicultural” America (a distinctly multifaceted cultural ideal).  The concept of American “diversity” continues to evolve and is vividly exemplified by Andrea …


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Subwoofers of Antiquity

Subwoofers of Antiquity

In December of last year, Verdine White, the bassist of Earth, Wind, & Fire, joined singer Robin Thicke and rapper T.I. in performing the summer hit “Blurred Lines” at the broadcast Grammy nominations show . While the bassist steadily bopped around the stage in a fuchsia suit, the singer seductively worked his falsetto contained …


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What Lies Beyond the Human and the Made

What Lies Beyond the Human and the Made

From cubism to conceptual art, the movement away from traditional aesthetics in Western art has been relentless. “Beauty and art were once thought of as belonging together, with beauty as among art’s principal aims and art as beauty’s highest calling,” says art historian David Beech. “However, neither beauty nor …


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Inge Hardison at 100

Inge Hardison at 100

Inge Hardison, sculptor, actor and photographer celebrated her 100 th birthday on February 3, 2014.  She is best known for a series of bronze busts, begun in 1963, of African Americans who fought slavery and led the struggle for civil rights, and who at that time had not yet been acknowledged in the National Hall of Fame in Washington, DC: …


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The Struggles Away or Towards This Peace

The Struggles Away or Towards This Peace

This chronicle of Amiri Baraka’s life in visual art does not successively refer to him by his given name and changing names — Everett LeRoi Jones, LeRoi Jones, Imamu Amear Baraka, Imamu Amiri Baraka and Amiri Baraka.  Instead, for reasons relating to clarity, style and deadlines), we refer to him throughout by his final …


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A Day At The Fair Revives Thorny, Old Questions

A Day At The Fair Revives Thorny, Old Questions

A visit to Miami Art Basel in December 2013 left no doubt in my mind that African American art and artists have now been firmly embraced by the mainstream art world. From 20th-century black “old masters” such as Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden to contemporary figures like Kehinde Wiley, Martin Puryear and Kara Walker, the …


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African American Print & Visual Media at the Nat'l Archives, no. 2

African American Print & Visual Media at the Nat'l Archives, no. 2

The collections at the National Archives include a trove of documents, photographs and film related to African American artists. We invited art historian John Welch to survey these materials and comment on what he finds in an occasional column. Born Laura Wheeler on May 16, 1887, in Hartford, CT; died on February 3, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA; …


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Art Basel Connects the African Diaspora

Art Basel Connects the African Diaspora

In its 12 th edition, Art Basel Miami Beach, Dec. 4-7, 2013, remained the largest international art fair in United States and people flock there from every corner of the world.  The reasons for coming are as divergent as those who attend. But for peoples of the African diaspora it provides an opportunity to connect through a shared …


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Holidays At The Porters

Holidays At The Porters

The winter holiday season was a special time for James A. Porter and his family. Porter's daughter, Coni Porter Uzelac, recalled festive holiday gatherings at the Porter home in an article published in the print  IRAAA  (v. 20, n. 3, 2005).  Known as the “father of African American art history,” James A. …


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African American Print & Visual Media at the Nat'l Archives, no. 1

African American Print & Visual Media at the Nat'l Archives, no. 1

The collections at the National Archives include a trove of documents, photographs and film related to African American artists. We invited art historian John Welch to survey these materials and comment on what he finds in an occasional column. Hotel porter, cook, and stevedore in New York City, c. 1918-25; began formal art study, 1921; …


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HU Museum News

HU Museum News

David Driskell Delivers Inspirational Talk on Collecting Art at HU Museum It was a sermon, if ever there was one — a gospel of art.  The "spiritual," soul enriching qualities of creating, viewing and collecting visual art was a recurring theme of the talk presented by David Driskell at the Hampton University Museum on April 5, 2014. …


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The Story Behind the Photograph

The Story Behind the Photograph

The story behind this photograph is a poignant one.  Graphic designer and design critic Michele Washington says that when Angela Dodson, editor of the now-defunct magazine, Black Issues Book Review , decided to feature photographer Gordon Parks on the cover, she, as the designer on the job, "jumped at the idea of having Anthony …


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Updates and Addenda for Faith Ringgold: Who I Am and Why article

Updates and Addenda for Faith Ringgold: Who I Am and Why article

  The Faith Ringgold/Who I Am and Why article is posted here . Art and Film Robin Cembalest of Art News writes about Faith Ringgold's Die as a centerpiece of the new exhibitions at the Perez Museum in conjunction with Miami Basel and continuing through May 2014.  The article links slavery themes in the movies to current art …


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IRAAA History

IRAAA History

The International Review of African American Art formerly Black Art: An International Quarterly Black Art: An International Quarterly made its debut in 1976. It was published by Samella Lewis and two associates and included an article on Elizabeth Catlett with a four-page, color pull-out reproduction of a Catlett print, Boys . The …


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African Headdresses Turn Heads

African Headdresses Turn Heads

Fetching $305,000, a Baga headdress from the Guinea Coast of Africa led the auction of African and Oceanic art on November 14, 2013 at Bonhams, New York.  The headress representing a d'mba,  or "idea" of a beautiful mother,  was purchased by an important European dealer. This auction room was packed with domestic and …


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Varieties of Performance Art Today

Varieties of Performance Art Today

Renée Stout: Tales of the Conjure Woman is on view at The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art through December 14, 2013, at the College of Charleston. A video introduces Renée Stout’s alter ego, fortune-teller Fatima Mayfield, alive and well producing alters and herbal apothecaries. The works address the age-old trials of …


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Rashid Johnson Update

Rashid Johnson Update

Since his 2009 solo exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, Rashid Johnson’s career has steadily and smoothly advanced.  It wasn’t always like that. In Spring 2013, IRAAA+ charted the sometimes rocky rise of Rashid Johnson as background for our coverage of the Sam Gilliam exhibition that Johnson curated at Kordansky …


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Meaning of Color

Meaning of Color

Just pure color can tell a story?  In an 2009 IRAAA article on Odili Donald Odita  (v. 22, no. 3), art critic Lara Taubman said it was so.  For example, she cited Odita’s  Torch Song  from his 2008  Double Edge  exhibition at Michael Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town, SA, and relayed the …


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Bending Time

Bending Time

This article is one in a series linking art and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). Bending Time, The Adventures of Emery Jones, Boy Science Wonder by Charles and Elisheba Johnson, Booktrope, 2014. Young Charles Johnson was a lot like Emery Jones, a whiz kid who loves creative play.  A serious student aspiring to become a …


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ARTISTS STRETCH TO MEET MEASURE OF YARDSTICK PROJECT

ARTISTS STRETCH TO MEET MEASURE OF YARDSTICK PROJECT

In 2004, artist and activist Alonzo Davis established the Alonzo Davis Fellowship Endowment at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) to give African American and Latino visual artists, composers and writers time and space to work uninterrupted in a quiet studio the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The artist’s residency includes a …


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Faith Ringgold, Who I Am and Why

Faith Ringgold, Who I Am and Why

A long line of enterprising, artistically talented and mostly unknown women laid the foundation for Faith Ringgold to fulfill her dream of being a professional artist at a time when hardly anyone knew that African American women could work and excel as visual artists. The line begins with Ringgold’s designer/couturier mother, Willi Posey, …


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Artists Rally to Save Haitian Art Museum

Artists Rally to Save Haitian Art Museum

The leading repository of Haitian visual art, the Musée d’Art Haitien du Collège St Pierre, was severely damaged by the 2010 earthquake and has not been repaired.  Haitian artists and collectors of Haitian art, residing on the island and abroad, have rallied to support the rebuilding by donating works to help fund …


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Art of Water at  Reservoir  Studio

Art of Water at Reservoir Studio

This article is one in a series linking art and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.   – Loren Eiseley We have to make parts for the machine we’re using . – B. Stephen Carpenter II On the Maryland cul-de-sac where Stephen grew up, the Carpenter house …


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Steve Prince's Portrait of a Marriage

Steve Prince's Portrait of a Marriage

"(T)his piece, like each of the others is about us:Prince and me," writes Valerie Prince in the article that follows.   'The Old Testament Series,' (Steve) Prince explains, 'is about an old love made new each day.' It represents his musing on what it has meant to be married for nearly 22 years."  Normally we do not seek commentary on …


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Long, Hard Road to Recognition

Long, Hard Road to Recognition

Eugene J. Martin (1938-2005) was a pioneering figure in the 1960s and 1970s in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to geometric, constructed and biomorphic abstraction, as well as a model for today’s loose border between abstraction and representation.  His story is that of the legendary artist who sacrifices the comforts of a …


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Art Across the Black Diaspora

Art Across the Black Diaspora

In May 2013, I organized an international symposium with Hannah Durkin at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, UK on “Art Across the Black Diaspora: Visualizing Slavery in America.” This event was not only generously funded by a Terra Foundation for American Art Academic Program grant but was supported by the Art …


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MY COUNTRY HAS NO NAME

MY COUNTRY HAS NO NAME

It is the story that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence. The story is the escort, without it we are blind.  – Chinua Achebe.   After 9/11, Nigerian-born artist Toyin Odutola noticed a shift starting in American society. Odutola’s perception was that the American …


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Approximately Infinite Universe

Approximately Infinite Universe

The Spring 2013 issue of the IRAAA on popular culture, digital technology, and mass media spotlighted science fiction as a significant influence in contemporary African American art. 1   So it is not surprising that the exhibition Approximately Infinite Universe includes several artists of African American descent: Edgar Arceneaux, Simone …


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Representing the Unrepresentable

Representing the Unrepresentable

Kerry James Marshall has steadily risen since the early 1990s to become one of the most celebrated of American painters and one of a handful of contemporary African Americans whose canvases routinely sell in the six-figure range.  His widespread recognition began in 1997 when he was awarded the coveted MacArthur Prize.  In Our Town , …


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Jati Lindsay's Bright Moments

Jati Lindsay's Bright Moments

Jazz and photography are twin arts. Both matured in the 20th century and came to exemplify the rigors and expressive potential of the modernist impulse. In the 21st century, both arts have had to adapt to new realities to avoid becoming obsolete. For some, jazz will never regain the majesty of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, and photography will …


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Dark Star, New Works by Sanford Biggers

Dark Star, New Works by Sanford Biggers

Dark Star, New Works by Sanford Biggersm,  Eric Firestone Gallery, East Hampton, NY, July 6-July 22, 2013.  A recent body of Biggers’ work has reflected on the journey of fugitives traveling the Underground Railroad through the deconstruction and repurposing of old quilts. In the book,  Hidden in Plain View , historian …


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Seeing Beauty in Difference via the Obama Women's Travel Through Africa

Seeing Beauty in Difference via the Obama Women's Travel Through Africa

Does an individual’s personal beauty have a place in an art organization’s outreach efforts and its historical and cultural preservation mission? At the Hampton University Museum, this question has been applied to the aesthetics of black women’s appearance in a new global initiative, Seeing Beauty in Difference (SBD).  …


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Scattered to the Wind

Scattered to the Wind

Installation artist Maya Freelon Asante collaborated with the bay breeze sweeping through the busy, commercial district of Baltimore as she presented a debut piece as a performance artist called Scattered to the Wind .   The kinetic piece at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower rained, colorful free-falling art down on all below. See the …


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Seeing Beauty in Difference Project is Semi Finalist in National Challenge

Seeing Beauty in Difference Project is Semi Finalist in National Challenge

IRAAA+’s Seeing Beauty in Difference project  is a semi-finalist for a national challenge sponsored by EmcArt’s Artsfwd initiative to promote next best practices for art organizations.   IRAAA’s challenge is engaging artists, art historians and other visual arts professionals – people who have mastered the …


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Art Elicited from a Site of Powerful Imaginaries

Art Elicited from a Site of Powerful Imaginaries

Diaspora Dialogue is a concise exhibition that encompasses the aesthetic and symbolic maturation of three well-known African modernist artists: Hampton University professor Kwabena Ampofo-Anti (b. 1949), former Howard University Professor Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian (b. 1937-d. 2003) and Victor Ekpuk (b. 1964). Curator Brian …


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Mad with its Own Loveliness

Mad with its Own Loveliness

One of the pleasures of working with smart college students is that while their intellects approach adult sophistication, their young minds are still sufficiently unclamped to allow a bit of lunacy to slip into the profundity.  Such was the case when IRAAA+  intern Kendall Johnson, a Hampton University junior journalism major, helped …


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Visual Art of the Blues

Visual Art of the Blues

When you hear the blues, the songs excite those deep feelings of loss, burdens, mistakes, heartaches, poverty and warnings about being wronged.  The visual art that salutes the blues music and culture doesn’t evoke bad feelings—it is usually more celebratory.  The recent exhibition, Blues for Smoke , which I saw at its New …


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The Fantasy World of Fred D. Jones

The Fantasy World of Fred D. Jones

Frederick D. Jones (1913-1996) was a prolific, Chicago artist whose career spanned more than five decades.  During his formative years, when a gritty, urban, social realism dominated the work of African American artists, Jones developed a dreamy, romantic style of fantasy.  His artwork was exhibited and marketed across the country and …


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Amy Sherald, A Second Life

Amy Sherald, A Second Life

As she was preparing to run a marathon in 2004, Baltimore artist Amy Sherald, then 31, learned that she had heart failure. Some people can live with congestive heart failure in its earlier stages and not know it. In 2012, Sherald received a new heart.   Art is what got her through eight difficult years.  Now she is an artist on …


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Photography, Film, and the African American Experience

Photography, Film, and the African American Experience

Making a Promised Land: Harlem in 20th-Century Photography and Film by Paula J. Massood; Bearing Witness from Another Place: James Baldwin in Turkey , with the foreword by Charles Johnson; One Shot: A Selection of Photographs by Reuben V. Burrell edited by Vanessa Thaxton-Ward. Since its emergence in the early 19th century, photography has had …


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Rashid Johnson Curates Sam Gilliam

Rashid Johnson Curates Sam Gilliam

Between 2001 when his work was represented in the Studio Museum of Harlem’s career-launching,  Freestyle  show that to 2011, Rashid Johnson gamely tried his hand at photographic and installation art, persisting in the wake of occasional, thumbs-down from critics.  During that decade, Johnson returned to school for a …


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U.S. Zulu Connection

U.S. Zulu Connection

During the early 1900s Hampton University — then called Hampton Institute — was a vital link in the transfer of art and culture between South Africa and the United States. Exchanges started then helped to shape South African history and live on in U.S. art and society to this day. That was a major theme of Global Zulu, an …


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30 Magical Horses

30 Magical Horses

  Schwanda Rountree For 14 magical days, twice a day, Grand Central Station Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall, was transformed into a collective dream space by Nick Cave’s choreographed dancing horses. Heard NY , the latest evolution of the Chicago-based artist’s colorful soundsuits, was presented March 25-31 by …


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Reminders of Reincarnation

Reminders of Reincarnation

When Africans dance in a traditional way, they are not just expressing the beat.  With his Heard NY performance in Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall in March 2013 and his exhibition at the Denver Art Museum (June 9-September 22, 2013)  Nick Cave reminds us of the powerful motives of Africans who danced   the …


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Eclectic Bright Matter

Eclectic Bright Matter

  Some how she makes it work. Makes it all come together as art worthy of display in one-person shows at noted galleries and major museums.  That’s the electic art of Shinique Smith — combos of swatches of polyester-looking fabric, Japanese calligraphy, graffiti tags, acrylic painting done in a swirling, kaleidoscopic …


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A Closer Look With Phil Freelon

A Closer Look With Phil Freelon

Freelon clinched its reputation as the nation’s leading African American-owned architecture firm in 2009, when it won the commission to design the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture that opens on Mall in Washington DC in 2015.  Its principal, Phil Freelon, also is a photographer, who invites …


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The Great Gathering in Paris

The Great Gathering in Paris

Writers, photographers, scholars, artists, curators and filmmakers converged in Paris, January 17-20, 2013, for the Black Portraiture[s]: The Black Body in the West conference.  They dissected the image of that dark and often violated but resilient body at sessions on art, fashion, personal style and popular culture.  In addition to …


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A Prodigy Dashed By Misfortune

A Prodigy Dashed By Misfortune

A Prodigy Dashed By Misfortune: John J. Farrar’s Life in Art is an extensive, IRAAA cover story on John Farrar (1927-1972), an artist of extraordinary talent whose career was curtailed by alcoholism and mental illnesses.    The article was published in 2003 (volume 19, number 2). Farrar’s estate has been managed by …


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Merton Daniel Simpson, September 20, 1928 - March 9, 2013

Merton Daniel Simpson, September 20, 1928 - March 9, 2013

Like the Archimedean spiral, Merton Daniel Simpson's creative aesthetic constantly expanded and ascended. An esteemed painter, jazz musician, philanthropist, art connoisseur, and gallerist, his reputation as one of America's premiere experts in African and tribal art remains unrivaled. Simpson was an influential connoisseur whose burgeoning …


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FOUND! A Gwendolyn Bennett Painting

FOUND! A Gwendolyn Bennett Painting

For many years Gwendolyn Bennett (1902-1981) intrigued scholars of African American cultural history.   Who was this poet who also painted, worked as a batik artist, illustrator and community activist?  This woman who was a major creative force on the Harlem Renaissance and WPA scenes yet whose achievement remains a minor …


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Rare Edmonia Lewis Photo Discovered

Rare Edmonia Lewis Photo Discovered

On a fall day in 2011 two Walters Art Museum colleagues walked into a Baltimore antique shop.  Jacqueline Copeland, deputy director for audience engagement, and Joaneath Spicer, curator of renaissance and baroque art, were looking for old photographs of persons of African descent for an exhibition to run parallel with a major exhibition …


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In Memory of Reuben V. Burrell

In Memory of Reuben V. Burrell

The International Review of African American Art and Hampton University are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our beloved photographer, Reuben V. Burrell.  Affectionately known by his Hampton family as "One Shot," Burrell passed Tuesday, February 3, 2015.  He would have celebrated his 96th birthday on February …


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Tumoil and Blight Spark Creative Genius

Tumoil and Blight Spark Creative Genius

When Jamea Richmond was about seven years old she and her older brother and his best friend were walking home from school, and passed a “beautiful abandoned” church.  But they also saw something no child should ever see.  “I remember a prostitute giving a man ‘favors’ on the side of the …


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VMFA Focus on African American Art

VMFA Focus on African American Art

Among southern arts institutions, Richmond’s  Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has been a leader in supporting African and African American art and its appreciation.  In 1944, art students at Hampton Institute (now university) exhibited at the VMFA along with students from 11 other colleges.   The quality of the Hampton …


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Below the Border

Below the Border

Eternal Presence , Danforth Museum , Framingham, Massachusetts, November 15, 2012 - March 24, 2013. John Wilson: Mexico, 1950-1956, Martha Richardson Fine Art Gallery , Boston, Massachusetts, through November 3, 2012   Nestled in the Newbury Street corridor of Boston’s Back Bay community, the Martha Richardson Fine Art Gallery …


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An Unheralded Hero

An Unheralded Hero

Singer/songwriter/playwright Nneena Freelon insists that we recognize the black washerwoman as a super hero of American history.  The arduous work of making soap from ashes and lard, rubbing soiled clothes on a scrub board, boiling clothes in a large pot and stirring them with a stick, ironing them with a heavy flat iron heated from a …


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Art Basel Miami Beach Preview

Art Basel Miami Beach Preview

The ongoing debate and uneasy relationships between commercial art galleries, public museums, and private collectors renewed, with the eleventh installation of Art Basel Miami Beach opening this week. Art Basel Miami Beach officially kicked off Wednesday with a series of VIP events attracting art collectors and stars like P Diddy, Tommy …


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In the Eye of the Muses

In the Eye of the Muses

In the Eye of the Muses: Selections from the Clark Atlanta University Art Collection , commemorates two historically significant events in African American art history, the 70th anniversary of the formation of the collection and the 60th year anniversary of the unveiling of Hale Woodruff’s mural, The Art of the Negro.   The volume is …


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Art to the Rescue of the Head!

Art to the Rescue of the Head!

Painter, book illustrator, sculptor Daniel Minter believes that it’s the artistic styling of the hair and the spiritual presentation of the head that accentuates black women’s beauty, not necessarily the length or altered texture.  A woman’s journey to realizing her own beauty is similar to the creative process of …


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Heady Aesthetics

Heady Aesthetics

Body art!   Walking sculptures!  Coiled, braided, threaded or in intricate twists and turns, the traditional hairstyles of African women were magnificent works of personal art.  These styles expressed the women’s beliefs and identities in skillfully artistic ways.  Today, however, Ghanaian artist Kwabena …


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FROM RAGS TO RENOWN

FROM RAGS TO RENOWN

Hambone, hambone, where you been? Round the world and back again. The extensive resourcefulness of traditional, southern African American culture is expressed in this pithy ditty.   Poor folks downhome passed a hambone from house to house to house to season each pot until the flavor was totally cooked out of the …


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Art Education Journal Explores Culturally Responsive Teaching

Art Education Journal Explores Culturally Responsive Teaching

Special Issue of Art Education, the journal of the National Art Education Association, September 2012, vol. 65, no. 5. Art education editor Christine Ballengee Morris is Professor of Art Education at The Ohio State University. E-mail: Morris.390@osu.edu Guest editor Debra Ambush is an adjunct professor at Corcoran College of Art and …


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Photography and The Negro in Chicago

Photography and The Negro in Chicago

Part I: Representing Riot This article is one of a series of essays addressing art as seen through the eyes of four budding scholars. Art history graduate students at Boston University, they are interested in exploring the uncharted bounds of African American and African Disporan visual culture. The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations …


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Turn of the Imagination

Turn of the Imagination

This article is one in a series linking art and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). Demetrius Oliver is one of several STEM-minded visual artists invited by IRAAA+ to comment on assertions made in an article in the art and design section of the U.K.’s Guardian.  " Science is more beautiful than art ,” headlines the …


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Turn of the Imagination

Turn of the Imagination

Demetrius Oliver is one of several STEM-minded visual artists invited by IRAAA+ to comment on assertions made in an article in the art and design section of the U.K.’s Guardian.  " Science is more beautiful than art ,” headlines the piece. Astonishingly artful images of natural phenomena are being captured by astronomers, …


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'Telling the Story to the Eye'

'Telling the Story to the Eye'

This article is one of a series of essays addressing art as seen through the eyes of four budding scholars. Art history graduate students at Boston University, they are interested in exploring the uncharted bounds of African American and African Disporan visual culture.  On January 30, 1864 Harper’s Weekly published a double-page …


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BEAUTY AND THE DEBATES

BEAUTY AND THE DEBATES

Art may point to clues to what matters not only in the aesthetic realm, but also the hard-nosed, rough and tumble competition of politics.  Aspects of art just might come into play regarding who wins or loses the election for U.S. president, who wins in the TV debates between challenger Mitt Romney and incumbent Barack Obama.  More on …


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A Rising Generation of Art Historians & Critics

A Rising Generation of Art Historians & Critics

Youth Speaks!  I invoke Alain Locke's clarion call of the 1925 Harlem issue of Survey Graphic that launched the Harlem Renaissance for more than rhetorical reasons.  For Locke believed in something called "Negro Art," not an essentialist claim to prominence by phenotypically similar artists, but an area of knowledge understudied and …


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Cultivated Hair

Cultivated Hair

For more than two decades, artist Sonya Clark has been obsessed with hair.  No, she does not wear a weave.  Rather, she’s fascinated with the infinite sculptural possibilities suggested by the squiggly lines emanating from black folks’ heads.   Now, as chair of Virginia Commonwealth University's craft/material …


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Ten Thousand Waves, Isaac Julien's Current Project

Ten Thousand Waves, Isaac Julien's Current Project

This article is one of a series of essays addressing art as seen through the eyes of four budding scholars. Art history graduate students at Boston University, they are interested in exploring the uncharted bounds of African American and African Disporan visual culture.   Are we all immigrants, emigrants and …


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The David C. Driskell Center in Transition

The David C. Driskell Center in Transition

     The transition in leadership at the University of Maryland’s Driskell Center illustrates how this cultural institution stands at the confluence of several streams in the history of African Americans, their education and their art.       There is the outgoing executive director, Robert E. …


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U*Space Gallery

U*Space Gallery

In the second gallery, I dragged a chair to a corner in the room. Reluctantly, I stepped on the furniture. I thought to myself, “My mother would be mortified.”  However, I was the only one mortified as I came face-to-wall with an interactive piece of art.  A black wall confronted visitors with an invitation for them to …


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The 3rd Annual Artisan Series Competition

The 3rd Annual Artisan Series Competition

BOMBAY SAPPHIRE and Russell and Danny Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Art Foundation continue their longstanding partnership with the Artisan Series in 2012.  The Artisan Series competition occurs at various venues across the country and provides an exceptional opportunity for talented emerging artists to showcase their works.  …


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The Pleasures and the Perils of Abstraction

The Pleasures and the Perils of Abstraction

       It has been 45 years since artist Raymond Saunders famously declared, “black is a color.” In an era of social activism, Saunders argued for his own indifference to the whims of those who placed the burden of politics on black expression. “Art,” he wrote,” projects beyond race …


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Swimming Upstream?

Swimming Upstream?

What a difference a few decades make. Even as late as the 1980s, works created by artists of African descent got little exposure in mainstream American museums.  By the 21st century, many of these institutions were regularly exhibiting and adding African American art to their permanent collections. Much of the credit for this change …


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Trans African Photography Project

Trans African Photography Project

Photography is often perceived as a medium with a unique capacity to capture truth. By design, a collective of artists mitigates any singular vision of “truth” or any one artist’s choice of content.   Founded in Lagos, Nigeria in 2009 by Emeka Okereke, the Invisible Borders: Trans-African Photography Project is a …


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The Alonzo Davis Fellowship

The Alonzo Davis Fellowship

Pioneering gallerist and artist Alonzo Davis spearheaded the Black Arts Movement in Los Angeles.  With brother Dale, Alonzo Davis founded the Brockman Gallery in 1967 at 4334 Degnan Blve.  Artists who showed there included David Hammons, Elizabeth Catlett,  Charles White, John Biggers, John Outterbridge, Romare Bearden and …


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Discovering God

Discovering God

This article is one in a series linking art and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). Doris Colbert Kennedy is excited. For years, Kennedy's oil paintings have depicted her intuitions of how the universe holds together. Inspired by the other-worldly speculations of theoretical physicists, her imaginative canvases have captured realms …


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Bad Taste in the Mouth

Bad Taste in the Mouth

It was almost exactly ten years ago that Saartjie Baartman’s remains were finally returned to her homeland of South Africa after years of being on display and later stored at the Musee de l’Homme in France.  The peace that Baartman so rightfully deserves continues to be disrupted by the legacy of the ‘ Venus Hottentot , " …


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Art History, Center Stage

Art History, Center Stage

Washington, D.C.-based playwright Jacqueline E. Lawton 's new play, The Hampton Years, is about artists John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Samella Lewis, Charles White and art professor Viktor Lowenfeld, the Austrian Jewish immigrant who created the art department at Hampton University. The Hampton Years celebrates the legacy of these outstanding …


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Quilting Links U.S. and Africa

Quilting Links U.S. and Africa

The growing phenomenon of globalization includes a unique intra-diasporic exchange of ideas in textile making between Africans and African Americans.  Traditional West African textile techniques, particularly narrow-strip weaving has influenced 19th and 20th century African American strip quilting in North America. As a result of the …


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Expanded Narratives: Recent Scholarship in African American Art

Expanded Narratives: Recent Scholarship in African American Art

Anna O. Marley, ed., Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit , Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Philadelphia,  Berkeley and Los Angeles: University  of California Press, 2011 Samella Lewis and the African American Experience , February 25 – April 21, 2012, West Hollywood, CA: Louis Stern Fine Arts Participating Gallery Pacific …


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Sword That Cuts Both Ways

Sword That Cuts Both Ways

1980s Britain witnessed the brassy, multi-faceted emergence of a new generation of young, black-British artists.  Practitioners such as Sonia Boyce and Keith Piper were exhibited in galleries up and down the country and reviewed approvingly.  But as the 1980s generation gradually, but noticeably fell out of favor, the 1990s …


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Upcoming Issue of the International Review of African American Art

Upcoming Issue of the International Review of African American Art

The Black Market The market for works by African American artists continues to grow.  Yet, as elsewhere in the art world, the gains are uneven, the majority of benefits accruing to a minority of artists, dealers and institutions.  This, at time when economic disparity in black communities is increasing more quickly than economic …


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Harvey Art Museum to be Established at Talladega College

Harvey Art Museum to be Established at Talladega College

Talladega alumnus and Hampton University President, William Harvey, and his wife Norma Harvey, have made a gift of over $1 million to establish the William R. Harvey Art Museum at Talladega College. The Harvey Art Museum will be the new home of the acclaimed Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals and kicks off the $5 million Rise Up! Ring True Campaign: …


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Creative Spirit. The Art of David C. Driskell

Creative Spirit. The Art of David C. Driskell

Creative Spirit, The Art of David C. Driskell , with essays by Floyd Coleman,  Adrienne L. Childs and  Julie L. McGee.  Published by the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park. In what is essentially a …


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The Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery in Nantes, France

The Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery in Nantes, France

The Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery (le Mémorial de l’abolition de l’esclavage) is one of the largest monuments in the world dedicated to slavery and its abolition. Roughly half a block long, this underground structure is designed largely in glass, cement and wood.  It captures the words of a variety of voices from …


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A Glimpse of What Lurks Beneath the Surface

A Glimpse of What Lurks Beneath the Surface

In this first volume of the series , Cinque Hicks, founding creative director of the series, and fellow art critics Jerry Cullum and Catherine Fox offer a gritty, true-to-life depiction of the ways of life experienced by the artists and residents of Atlanta. "Noplaceness" refers to art that addresses shifting concepts of space and place, …


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Rivers and Memories

Rivers and Memories

Brentwood Arts Exchange Washington , D. C. E.J. Montgomery and Lilian Thomas Burwell are brimming with ideas for new works. They also have learned to easily bend with the challenges of the creative process, understanding that unexpected obstacles ultimately can result in work that is even better than what they intended. Aptly described as "two …


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Beauty, Power and Struggle

Beauty, Power and Struggle

Beauty is a power. And the struggle to have the entire range of Black beauty recognized and respected is a series one.   — Barbara Summers, Skin Deep: Inside the World of Black Fashion Models  (1998) and quoted in Deborah Willis, Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present (2009) This fourth article …


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The Rest of the Story

The Rest of the Story

Writing in the premier issue of Black Art: an international quarterly (now IRAAA ), Bob Holmes said that Larry Rivers, a white artist/jazz musician had, with the possible exception of Romare Bearden, achieved more recognition than any African American artist dealing with black subject matter. Holmes wrote in 1976: . . . Sotheby has not to this …


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'Climb up the ladder and look out!'

'Climb up the ladder and look out!'

Over there glances over here, goes back to the screen. Art makes witness in clay, on paper, in neon, refuse, fiber, song. Nothing goes unnoticed. We fall in together, fall out, fight, loop it on YouTube, weave it into a picture frame. Connect, connecting.   STEAM all caps.  STEM + Arts = STEAM, ancient practice, new acronym, currently …


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