Thursday, February 1, 2018

Select Upcoming Art Talks, Symposiums in 2018 (February through April)

Bentonville, Arkansas
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Symposium 2018: Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power
 Benny Andrews, Did the Bear Sit Under a Tree, 1969,
copyright Estate of Benny Andrews.

"The symposium features exhibition artists and curators who will provide an insightful round of conversation reflecting on art, politics, music, and community in the age of Black Power."  The symposium is sold out. However, you can view the livestream  on you device. Check back on February 3rd for the livestream link.

Date: Saturday, February 3, 2018
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. 

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Hutchins Center  for African  and African American Research
Black Portraiture[s] IV: The Color of Silence

Black Portraiture[s] IV: The Color of Silence takes place fifteen years after an initial colloquium was convened at Harvard University on African American art. This is "the eighth conference in a series of conversations about imaging the black body. Artists, activists, and scholars are invited to reflect on the visual expressions of national imaginaries and political ideologies that negate racial differences and render black subjects invisible."

Date: Thurs., March 22, 2018 | Fri., March 23, 2018 | Sat., March 24, 2018
Time: 6:00 p.m. | 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. | 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location: Harvard Art Museums | TBA | Harvard Art Museums

Claremont, California
Pomona College Museum of Art
Talk with Curator Lisa Henry 
Mickalene Thomas, Le leçon d'amour, 2008, C-print, 47.5" x 59.
Copyright Mickalene Thomas. Courtesy the artist;
Lehamann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Independent curator Lisa Henry will discuss the power of social media to reimagine and recontextualize historic narratives. Henry will debut her Instagram photo essay of images of her mother, one of the first black models in the US. This talk is a related event accompanying the currrent exhibitions, MUSE: Mickalene Thomas Photographs and tête-à-tête which are on view January 25 through May 13, 2018. 

Date: Thursday, April 26, 2018
Time: 4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

College Park, Maryland
David C. Driskell Center
Artist Talk: Amy Sherald
Amy Sherald

This event is presented at the David C. Driskell Center in collaboration with The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. and the University of Maryland's Department of Art. "Through her portraits, Amy Sherald explores the ways people construct and perform their identities in response to political, social, and cultural expectations, offering a critical view of African American cultural history and the representation of the African American body."

Date: Thursday, March 29, 2018
Time: 6:30 p.m.

College Park, Maryland
David C. Driskell Center
Seventeenth  Annual Distinguished Lecture in the Visual Arts
in Honor of David C. Driskell Series
Speaker: David R. Brigham, PhD.

David R. Brigham is President and CEO of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). "His talk addresses arts and education, training artists for the 21st century, strategies for impacting and diversifying the canon, changing the face of museums, and diversity's centrality to the mission of our nation's arts institutions."  

Date: April 5, 2018
Time: 6:00 p.m.

Columbus, Ohio
Columbus Museum of Art
Artist Talk: Carrie Mae Weems
Carrie Mae Weems, from Family Pictures and Stories, 1981-82.
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

This is a related program for the exhibition, Family Pictures, that is on view February 16 through May 20, 2018 at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Date: April 5, 2018
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio
Columbus Museum of Art
Artist Talk: Deana Lawson 
Deana Lawson, Mohawk Correctional Facility: Jazmin and Family, 2013. Pigment Print.
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio: Museum Purchase with funds provided by
The Contemporaries.

This is a related program for the exhibition, Family Pictures, that is on view February 16 through May 20, 2018 at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Date: May 17, 2018
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Columbus Museum of Art

Kalamazoo, Michigan
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA)
Artist Talk: James Van Der Zee's Harlem  

"Richard Koenig, Professor of Art at Kalamazoo College, will explore the work of James Van Der Zee, a leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance, who broke the barriers with his photographs of black New Yorkers. Koenig will discuss Van Der Zee in relation to photographer Dawoud Bey's work, currently on view in Harlem, USA and Harlem Redux, along with a selection of Van Der Zee's work. Harlem, USA and Harlem Redux will be on view at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts through April 11, 2018.  

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018
Time: 6:30 p.m.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA)
Book Discussion: South of Pico: African American Artists
in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s

The discussion will be led by Jo Ann Mundi at the KIA Library. South of Pico "is an exploration into how the artists in Los Angeles' black communities during the 1960s and 1970s created a vibrant, productive, and engaged activist arts scene in the face of structural racism."  

When: Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: KIA Library 

Los Angeles, California
University of Southern California (USC)
Fisher Museum of Art 
Senga Nengudi, R.S.V.P., 1977, sculpture activated by Maren Hassinger,
dimensions variable. Photo Credit: Herman Outlaw.
April 14, 2018 
USC Fisher Museum of Art will present a day-long symposium that was inspired by the exhibition Senga Nengudi: Improvisational Gestures, currently on view at the museum through April 14, 2018. This symposium is a collaboration between the USC Fisher Museum with the California African American Museum, USC Roski School of Art and Design, and USC Dornsife's Department of Art History."The symposium will offer both new and familiar audiences an opportunity to explore and experience the work of Senga Nengudi, as well as investigate its intersections in contemporary art and performance. Panels, screenings, and a performance will bring together artists, students, activists, curators, writers, and intellectuals for a day of dialogue and discovery."

Stanford, California
Stanford University
Cantor Arts Center, Auditorium
Art Practice Talk Series: Jonathan Calm
Jonathan Calm
The upcoming speaker in the Art Talk Practice Series, Jonathan Calm, is a visual artist and assistant professor in Photography at the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University. Calm's "interests include urban architecture and housing and he is currently developing new work around the representation of African-American automobility, featuring performance, reenactment and portraiture to evoke the tension between moving and still images and bodies.

This lecture, African-American Automobility: The Dangerous Freedom of the Open Road, shares the same title as the exhibition that Calm has on view at the Stanford Art Gallery through March 18, 2018. 

When: Thursday, March 8, 2018
Time: 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Location: Cantor Arts Center, Auditorium 

Syracuse, New York
Everson Museum of Art
Film Screening /Talk: AfriCOBRAArt for the People

Everson Museum of Art features a film screening of AfriCOBRA: Art for the People and a talk with AfriCOBRA artist Napoleon  Jones-Henderson. "This poignant documentary  features rare interviews and the dynamic work of Chicago's AfriCOBRA artists and founder Jeff Donaldson. There will be a conversation with AfriCOBRA artist and scholar Napoleon Jones-Henderson as he discusses  the contributions of AfriCOBRA to the 1960s Black Arts Movement." The talk will follow the film screening.

Date; February 22, 2018
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Homer Auditorium

Washington, D.C.
National Gallery of Art
Public Symposia: Boundary Trouble: 
The Self-Taught Artist and American Avant-Gardes

     Horace Pippin, Interior, 1944, oil on canvas overall: 24 1/8" x 30 3/16"x 1/16 " 
framed: 32" x 38 1/2" x 2 5/8" 
National Gallery of Art, Washington. 
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Meyer P. Potamkin, 
in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art

This program is held on the occasion of the exhibition Outliers and American Vanguard Art. Papers will explore subjects including religion, gender, and cross-disciplinary art practices, which are central to the intersection of American mainstream art with the work of an eclectic range of self-taught artists."  View the program.

Date: February 16, 2018  | February 17, 2018 
Time: 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. | 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Location: East Building Auditorium

West Palm Beach, Florida
Norton Museum of Art
Curator's Talk: Cheryl Brutvan
Jean-Michel Basquiat: Drawing into Painting

Cheryl Brutvan discusses Basquiat and his emphasis on drawing throughout his career as in the work on view at the Norton Museum of Art. Jean-Michel Basquiat: Drawing into Painting is on view
February 8 through March 18. 2018. 

Date: February 8, 2018
Time: 6:30 p.m. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

6 Artists on Black Identity

"Where am I in this story?" Watch artists such as Wangechi Mutu, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Chimamanda Adichie discuss how black people are (mis-)represented in today's society and culture. The following artists are featured: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Kerry James Marshall, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Sammy Baloji, Taiye Selasi, and Wangechi Mutu. 

Because I enjoyed viewing, listening to, and revisiting this piece from the Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, I wanted to share it with followers. ...Short but packed with truths.

Monday, October 16, 2017

RESPONSE to York College RE: "Rewind by Paul Rucker"

Currently on view at York College of Pennsylvania, Rewind by Paul Rucker has been "limited to students, faculty, staff, and selected invited guests." This powerful exhibition with a race based focus has been deemed "controversial." It includes a collection of Ku Klux Klan robes in various colors of both solid and print fabrics, including traditional African patterns. There are also pieces of racist ephemera that includes lynching postcards and Klan newspapers. 

Limiting the viewership of Rewind screams missed opportunity for York College of Pennsylvania. Supporting this exhibition to the fullest extent would have  demonstrated a leadership role in the community by providing a platform for positive engagement between the student body, faculty, and the local community. This could have been a big win and a victory for the college. It is unfortunate that  the administration of York College was not willing to face and embrace the tough topics around racism, violence, hate crimes, and the inequitable treatment of blacks as American citizens. Black Art Project (BAP) was appalled at the level of sensitivity and uncomfortableness at an institution of higher learning who chose to deny access of a wider audience to view the creative expression exhibited by Rucker's Rewind. Such creative expression offers an opportunity for engagement and dialogue on social, political, and 
Paul Rucker’s “REWIND” exhibition
at the York College Art Galleries.
Courtesy of Ryan Stevenson.
racially charged  issues. Rewind could serve as part of a catalyst for change and growth, resulting in healing and resolution of some racial issues.

In a case such as this, we must ask the hard question of whether this represents a form of censorship? BAP's response to that question would be an unequivocal yes. Although the exhibition has remained intact without the removal of any items, censorship occurs when materials, such as those in an art exhibition, are restricted to a particular audience based on any characteristic deemed by authorities, in this case at York College, as appropriate for establishing the restriction. In the case of Rewind, access has been "limited to students, faculty, staff, and selected invited guests." Bear in mind, that the York College Galleries has an open access policy which is stated on their website: "We invite you to see our ongoing free public exhibitions!" Further, "All events are free and open to the public."

Rather than limiting access to the exhibition, BAP would have preferred reading that York College created a number of accompanying programs, proceeding and after the installation of the exhibition, that prepared the viewer to clearly understand the meaning and thought behind the artist's intent. The college could have gone even further by providing dialogue that included an intended educational context of the exhibition for York College and its communities.  

Although only seen by a limited audience at York College, Paul Rucker has had a positive exhibition simply by the fact that his creative expression elicited some unease and discomfort, and has gained some positive press and support on social media platforms. Although this exhibition is ending in a few days, BAP hopes that in the future, the college thinks seriously about embracing an exhibition such as this, and provide support for it on the college's website, provide an opportunity for an extensive interview with the artist by a professor and/or student, sponsor a panel discussion which would be open to all communities, and publish a fully illustrated catalogue that includes critical essays. It is a bit late to do any of this for Rewind during the remaining time that it is on view at York College. However, for this current exhibition, York College's administration could offer Paul Rucker a public apology. It would be a decent and honorable gesture at this time, particularly after having invited him to their campus to exhibit his works, then limiting access to the exhibition.  

Further readings: 
REWIND exhibition by by Paul Rucker

Hate, social injustice take center stage in York College exhibit called 'Rewind'    

A College Decided That This Anti-Racist Art Show Was Too ‘Provocative’ for the Public 

American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q and A

Monday, August 7, 2017

Artist Talk: Titus Kaphar...Can Art Amend History?

"Titus Kaphar makes paintings and sculptures that wrestle with the struggles of the past while speaking to the diversity and advances of the present. In an unforgettable live workshop, Kaphar takes a brush full of white paint to a replica of a 17th-century Frans Hals painting, obscuring parts of the composition and bringing its hidden story into view. There is a narrative coded in art like this, Kaphar says. What happens when we shift our focus and confront unspoken truths?"

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

BAP: Celebrating Seven Years on Twitter

For seven years (2004-2010), I compiled and published the print version of the Guide to Black Art Exhibitions (ISSN 1559-5129) through the Black Art Project (BAP). A number of those archival print editions are accessible online via Scribd. In addition, select print editions of the Guide are a part of the reference or archival collections of such institutions as the Library of Congress, Smithsonian American Art/Portrait Gallery Library, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library, the New York Public Library (Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture), Chicago Public Library, the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, Detroit Public Library, Newark Public Library, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), and others.

After the print version of the Guide ceased publication, I had to create another vehicle through which I could channel information relating to Black art exhibitions. To achieve that goal, I looked toward creating a blog page that would focus on a large, but select number of exhibitions during any given year. In addition to the blog page, I decided that each exhibition would be announced via Twitter at some time during its exhibition cycle. Twitter would become the marketing informational source. In the beginning of this social media venture, I committed myself to learning how Twitter might afford me an opportunity to connect with an inter-generational group of readers from a cross-section of the world. The goal was to greatly expand and grow the readership beyond those readers who had access to the print publication. With that as my focus, I was open to explore and made a personal commitment to try Twitter for a year to determine if it would meet BAP needs of sharing and connecting more readers to the world of Black visual artists. 

June 20th marked seven years, that I said hello to a new adventure (Twitter), not having the slightest idea of how to implement the goal that I had conceived and envisioned. Back in June of 2010, I was willing to face a bigger challenge that required me to stretch my skill set in a direction of becoming familiar with new platforms to share information electronically. Within a few months, I was comfortable with Twitter and am still learning the vocabulary and symbols of this micro-blogging tool as an informational source. From the beginning, it has been and will remain my intent to focus 90-95% of the tweets towards the visual arts, covering all aspects of the art world. 

The success of creating and promoting an online Guide to Black Art Exhibitions did not simply rest in my enhancing my technological skills as a blogger, but is based to an even larger extent on a large number of individuals, groups, and organizations that follow BAP on the Blog and particularly on Twitter. Their consistent willingness to like, mention, retweet, and share tweets to their circle of friends, family, acquaintances, and others have been greatly appreciated. I look at those followers as a part of an international family who mutually support Black visual artists, and understand their importance and the impact that they have made to enhance the quality of the visual experience. So, I personally thank all BAP followers for any support that you have provided over the past seven years. It has been greatly appreciated. #gratitude #SupportBlackArtists 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Terry Dixon: Kinetic Abstraction

Terry Dixon in his studio in Guangzhou, China 
Chicago based artist, Terry Dixon, is working on one of his most ambitious and critical new bodies of artwork to date in his art studio in China. Dixon is doing a three month artist residency in the city of Guangzhou, China. Terry is known for the combination of his photography work juxtaposed with his paintings and signature line creations, and intense colors, but this time around he just wants to focus on his line work, color, texture and patterns.

fig. 1: Terry Dixon, Kinetic Abstraction #1, 2017, mixed media on linen, 60" x 168". Photo by Terry Dixon.  

This 60" x 168" mixed media on linen (fig. 1) is one of Dixon's biggest paintings in his career to date. The painting will be the focal piece in his upcoming solo exhibition, Kinetic Abstraction, that will be opening in China on July 2, 2017
photo by Terry Dixon
at the Redtory Art and Design Factory. Kinetic Abstraction  is based  on the connectivity of lines, patterns and shapes. Kinetic means movement and the lines in the artwork create motion on the surface of the canvas. The lines, patterns and painted shapes are intertwined within each other, creating a maze structure to the viewer's eye. The mixed media techniques create a dynamic world of entry and exit points inside the surface of each art piece. When viewing each piece, there is something new that is seen within the different layers of the work because of the intricate creation of the line design. Artist Terry Dixon has a background in animation and his paintings show a heavy influence in his world of abstracted movement. A large portion of his abstract paintings are all intuitively created and are inspired by the rhythm of electronic and jazz music. His intuitive creations take you through a dynamic visual exploration of lines, patterns, colors, shapes and sound.  

DETAIL: Kinetic Abstraction #1
DETAIL: Kinetic Abstraction #1

DETAIL: Kinetic Abstraction #1

DETAIL: Kinetic Abstraction #1
The following images are the artist, Terry Dixon, completing artwork for his upcoming exhibition, Kinetic Abstraction, in Guangzhou, China. To learn and see more about artist Terry Dixon visit his website.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Select African American Art Exhibitions: Highlights for June - August 2017 | Part 2

This is the second part of a two part series focusing on Select African American Art Exhibitions: Highlights for June - August 2017. This continuation focuses on those institutions that are presenting a single artist exhibition and will include the following: Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Craft and Folk Art Museum Los Angeles, Knoxville Museum of Art,  and Sumter County Gallery of Art.

As stated in part one of this series, "This is a very select list of exhibitions and although the exhibitions represented do paint the depth and breadth of art being produced by African American artists, it is not at all comprehensive when it comes to the number of exhibitions that are currently on view or forthcoming. The aim has been to select exhibitions that show works reflecting inter-generational production by male and female artists from across the country which are on view in various types of venues." To supplement this post, the reader is encouraged to view a more expansive offering of exhibitions highlighting the work of African American artists at the BAP Blog page entitled: Select Art Exhibitions in 2017. That page is updated on a weekly basis by either adding newly discovered exhibitions or removing those that are approaching their expiration date. Its intent is to provide comprehensive coverage of ongoing exhibitions on view for the current year.  

Boston, Massachusetts   

Sun Splashed, Artin
2013, Chromogenic color print,
83 7/8" x 63”. Photographed by Lee Jaffe
Courtesy the artist; Galleria Continua,
San Gimignano, Beijing, Les Moulins,
and Havana; and Lehmann Maupin,
New York and Hong Kong. NW.45, ©2017 Nari Ward.  

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) presents Nari Ward: Sun Splashed which is the most significant exhibition of the artist's work to date, and it will be on view through September 4, 2017. The exhibition is organized by Diana Nawi who is associate curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Nari Ward was introduced to the Boston art scene in the 1998 exhibition, The Quiet in the Land, and again in 2000 as a part of a public project, Art of the Emerald Necklace, "an outdoor exhibition sponsored by the Institute of Contemporary Art and by Vita Brevis, the institute's separate program of temporary public art, [was] on view... through August 20. It [featured] temporary works by nine artists and landscape architects placed in and around the last system of urban parks [Frederick Law] Olmsted designed.... 

The artworks either celebrate or beg comparison with Olmsted's complex and subtle 19th-century vision; in a few cases they direct a contemporary spotlight on his left-to-crumble ideas." (Remembering Olmsted's Vision for Boston by Ann Wilson Lloyd, August 6, 2000, New York Times).

The Boston presentation of this current exhibition, Sun Splashed, is coordinated by Ruth Erickson, ICA Associate Curator. According to Erickson, "Emerging alongside a notable group of African-American artists who rose to prominence in the 1990s, Ward takes on a massive and tactile approach to art-making and has expanded contemporary definitions of installation, assemblage, and site-specificity. His deft use of found objects imbues his work with an instinctive connection to the past as well as the present, allowing him to challenge viewers' perceptions of familiar objects and experiences."

Sun Splashed  speaks to the issues around politics, spirituality, identity, and migration. The artworks which are made from soda pop bottles, shoelaces, shopping carts and other found materials that speak to the artist's distinctive experimentation of creating works in sculpture, collage, video, installation, and photographs. This exhibition, consisting of approximately 43 works, draws on diverse art histories and visual traditions, ranging from folk practices and ritual object-making to avant-garde and conceptual legacies of the twentieth century. Ward imbues his work with layered meanings connected to cultural expression, history, and the Black experience, paying particular attention to his native Jamaica and his adopted home of Harlem. 

Nari Ward, Savior, 1996, Shopping cart, plastic garbage bags, cloth, bottles, 
metal fence, earth, wheel, mirror, chair, and clocks, 128” × 36” × 23”.
Collection of Jennifer McSweeney, NW.09. Courtesy of artist and Lehmann Maupin,
New York and Hong Kong. Photo by EG Schenpf, Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art.
©2017 Nari Ward.

Savior, shopping cart featured in the image above, is a 10-foot tall sculpture that transforms a quotidian shopping cart through intricate assemblage and wrapping. "The encrusted cart, with its Christianity-inflected title, looks like a regal version of the carts that homeless or itinerant people use to collect cans and move their belongings. Ward addresses those who reside on the margins of the city's social structures and economies - the street vendors, the homeless, the disenfranchised." (museum label)

Nari Ward, Radha LiquorsouL, 2010,
Metal and neon sign, PVC tube with artificial flowers,
shoelaces, and shoe tips, 126” × 25” × 29”, 
Collection of Rachel and Jean-Pierre Lehmann
NW.34. Courtesy the artist and Lehman Maupin,
New York and Hong Kong, ©2017 Nari Ward  
Radha LiquorsouL, which is exhibited in the above image, is a part of a group of works made from out-of-use liquor store signs that Ward removed from buildings in New York. "Ward decorates the large neon signs with found objects...the final artwork is like a ritualistic beacon produced by urban streets, communal rituals, and personal affect." (museum label)

A catalogue accompanies this exhibition.

Program Highlights:
Nari Ward - A Segue into History
An Artist Talk: Explore this video and audio recording featuring Nari Ward.

Interactive tour led by one of the ICA’s expert guides. 
Saturday, June 24, 2017, 2:30 PM
Sunday, June 25, 2017, 2:30 PM
Saturday, July 1, 2017, 2:30 PM
Sunday, July 2, 2017, 2:30 PM
SEE more dates at Interactive tour.

Nari Ward Naturalization Drawing Table
"Participate in artist Nari Ward’s artwork Naturalization Drawing Table, in conjunction with his exhibition Nari Ward: Sun Splashed. Based on Ward’s personal experience of becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, this interactive artwork gives museum visitors a better understanding of that process."   

Saturday, July 1, 2017, 1:00–4:00 PM
Thursday, July 13, 2017, 5:00–8:00 PM
Saturday, August 5, 2017, 1:00–4:00 PM
Thursday, August 17, 2017, 5:00–8:00 PM

Knoxville, Tennessee

Beauford Delaney, Knoxville, 1969. Watercolor and gouache on paper,
24” x 15 ¾”, Knoxville Museum of Art, purchase with funds provided by the
Rachael Patterson Young Art Acquisition Reserve. All images © Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

The acquisition and display of works by Beauford Delaney have been part of a larger effort to bring long-overdue attention to the artist's legacy in his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. That effort and dream have been realized as the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA) presents Gathering Light: Works by Beauford Delaney from the KMA Collection, on view through July 23, 2017. 

Gathering Light includes more than 30 of Delaney's paintings and drawings that were purchased from the artist's estate between 2014 and 2016 in what has amounted to one of the most significant art acquisition in the KMA's 27-year history. Nearly all of these works have never been on public view. Accompanying the works acquired by the KMA are also a small collection of paintings from the artist's estate that the museum hopes to raise funds to purchase.

KMA Executive Director David Butler states "We are thrilled to shine light on one of the world's greatest artists and local hero, Beauford Delaney. His legacy has been recognized internationally, but he less well-known here at home. We hope this exhibition helps to change that."

Beauford Delaney, Untitled (New York City) circa 1945. Watercolor on paper, 15 ½” x 22 ½”,
Knoxville Museum of Art, purchase with funds provided by the KMA Collectors Circle.

Beauford Delaney was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1901 and died in Paris, France in 1979. "Delaney is considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Despite battling poverty, prejudice, and mental illness, he achieved an international reputation for his portraits, scenes of city life, and  free-form abstractions marked by intense colors, bold contours, and vibrant surfaces. The KMA's growing collection promises to serve as a vital resource for the preservation and celebration of this East Tennessee master's work."(PR)

Los Angeles, California

Betye Saar, Liberation, 2011, Mixed media on vintage washboard.
Courtesy of the artist and Roberts and Tilton, Los Angeles, CA. Collection of Sheila Silber. 
Betye Saar: Keepin' It Clean, a solo exhibition of the seminal contemporary artist's washboard assemblage sculptures is on view at The Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) through August 20, 2017. Saar began the washboard assemblage sculptures in the late 1990s and continues to make them to this day.

"Saar commonly utilizes racialized, derogatory images of Black Americans in her art as political and social devices. The Liberation of Aunt Jemima (1972) is Saar’s most well-known art work, which transformed the stereotypical, nurturing mammy into a militant warrior with a gun. Aunt Jemima continues to be a reference point for Saar even now, as she brings her back to life to take on the ongoing racial injustices faced by Black America, including disproportionate police violence and poverty. Combining images of mammies and laundresses with potent words from spirituals and poetry within the washboard structure, Saar emboldens and ennobles the once subservient figure - no longer in service of white supremacy." (PR)  Listen as Saar discusses The Liberation of Aunt Jemima in the following video.

We Was Mostly ‘Bout Survival
, 2017
Mixed media assemblage on
vintage ironing board
Courtesy of the artist and Roberts
& Tilton, Los Angeles, CA
Betye Saar, We Was Mostly ‘Bout Survival, 2017
Mixed media assemblage on vintage ironing board
Courtesy of the artist and Roberts and Tilton, Los Angeles, CA.
Photo: Robert WedemeyeAdd caption

Keepin' It Clean which presents twenty-four new and historical works that center on the washboard as a symbol of the unresolved legacy of slavery and the subsequent oppressive systems facing Black Americans today was curated in close collaboration with the artist. Saar's renewed focus on making washboard assemblages stands as an urgent act of cleansing the race-and-gendered-based violence that American society continues to inflict. In Saar's own words, "the increase of police shootings and the Black Lives Matter protests are examples that America has not yet cleaned up her act."

According to Holly Jerger, curator of Keepin' It Clean, "Betye Saar's washboard assemblages are brilliant in how they address the ongoing, multi-dimensional issues surrounding race, gender, and class in America. She compresses these enormous, complex concerns into intimate works that speak on both a personal and political level. With the increasing erosion of civil rights in our country, it is more important than ever to exhibit Saar's work, and we are deeply honored to have the opportunity." 

A fully-illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition with an essay by Steven Nelson, Director of the African Studies Center and professor of African and African American art history at UCLA. 

Program Highlight:
Keepin' It Clean: A Conversation with Betye Saar and Steven Nelson   
Sunday, June 25, 2017   3:00 PM 
Space is limited, RSVP required:

William Paul Thomas, Stephanie's Financé, oil on canvas, 24"x 36".

The Sumter County Gallery of Art presents two exhibitions, William Paul Thomas: Loved Ones and Saba Taj: Muslims are Awesome, on view through June 23, 2017. Both Thomas and Taj belong to communities that are experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety as their status as Americans is questioned. 

According to Karen Watson, Director of the Sumter County Gallery of Art, "It is more important than ever to provide an opportunity for the voices and visions of these artists to be seen and heard. The Sumter Gallery of Art is committed to presenting challenging art that, we hope, will increase understanding and break down barriers."  Watson goes further to state that "Loved Ones is an appropriate title for the exhibition, because the titles of the portraits are familial descriptions - a little girl's dad, an auntie's grandson, a friend's fiancé." The image above, Stephanie's Financé, features Johannes James Barfield. Thomas "took the photo reference for this after they had just left a movie theater in Greensboro.  Johannes is an artist currently working on his MFA at VCU.  We met while he was living in Greensboro. He included me in a series of photographic portraits exploring family."(PR) 

William Paul Thomas's goal for Loved Ones can be readily understood as it is explained in his artist statement: "Many people have an immediate psychological connection and/or identification to faces. As people are drawn to look closer at the portraits, questions about the subject's state of mind arise. Are they sad, reflective, angry? If the expression is ambiguous enough, we might begin to project our own emotions onto them to interpret the
painting's meaning. We regularly celebrate women and men of prominence in mass media, so I take advantage of the opportunity to highlight the working people in my community that impact me more directly than an untouchable celebrity or distant historical figure could. The work begins as an intimate
William Paul Thomas, Evie's Last, oil on canvas,
24"x 36".
acknowledgement of an individual and is subsequently transformed into a set of symbols poised for the viewer's investigation." Thomas's selection of the people he uses as models is twofold: it is a way of recognizing their significance in his life, and it serves as a way of honoring everyday people who often move through the world unnoticed.

William Paul Thomas's current series, Cyanosis, is a part of the Sumter Gallery exhibition, Loved Ones. The series explores the condition of being deprived of basic human rights, being marginalized, or victimized and the artist does this by painting parts of the subjects faces blue. Cyanosis is a way to describe the bluish tone of the skin that results from lack of oxygen in the blood. In a real life situation, a recent witnessing of deprivation of oxygen was the strangulation death of Eric Garner by NYPD police officers. Evie's Last (image to the right) features Anthony Hill who is Thomas's brother; Anthony is Evona Hill's youngest son. According to Thomas, "Anthony will be 20 this year. He was in first grade by the time I went to college, so we haven’t been able to spend as much time together as I would like. He is a talented musician  and is in at least two Metal bands."

Saba Taj: Muslims are Awesome is the second exhibition on view through June 23, 2017 at the Sumter County Gallery of Art. Saba Taj is a self-identified queer, visual artist and activist whose work centers around identity and challenging Islamophobia and sexism. 

work by Saba Taj

When asked what it's like to produce art during a time of Islamophobia in America, Taj notes that her "entire life as an American has been a time of Islamophobia, and it is something that she directly confronts in her work. Early on she felt a responsibility to use her art to explore Islamophobia, but more recently has found that simply by being a socially engaged Muslim and gay woman of color in America, themes of systemic marginalization emerge in her work because that is embedded in how she grapples with her own identity."(PR) 
Saba Taj thinks of art as a way to control the narrative and representation of Muslim Americans, and also as an act of resistance in a world that threatens to diminish people because of who they love and what they believe."

work by Saba Taj
From her artist statement, Saba Taj states "I grew up internalizing a lot of racist and sexist messaging. My work undoes these toxic falsehoods and navigates the nuances of intersectionality, by focusing on representation. The constructed 2-dimensional story of these women, oppressed and lacking agency in an imagined 'Muslim world,' has been a partial justification for military intervention and fuels Islamophobia. Muslims are Awesome is a collection of works that pushes back against Islamophobic narratives by illustrating hybridized identity. Truly, Muslims are a combination of many parts, ever changing over time, complicated by diaspora, and highly individualized. Muslims are Awesome challenges dehumanizing, hegemonic representations of Muslim women as oppressed, in need of liberation by white America. Many of the portraits offer a non-Muslim viewer entry points through humor, beauty, and shared cultural symbols."