Black Female Artists Tackle The Dangerous Stereotypes That Have Never Defined Them

Mildred Howard, “I’ve Been a Witness to this Game IX,” color monoprint/digital on found paper with collage, 2016.

article by Priscilla Frank via huffingtonpost.com

The pop culture landscape is littered with lazy images of black women ― the nurturer, the hussy, the angry bitch. Hovering around the all-encompassing myth of the “strong black woman,” those paper-thin characterizations fail to represent real women in all their complexity and vulnerability.

Despite the monolithic representations that appear so often in TV series, advertisements, films and the imaginations of those who digest them, artists have long worked to provide images that speak to the depth and sweet fallibility of all human beings ― black women included.

An exhibition at the Alexandria Museum of Art, titled “Beyond Mammy, Jezebel, & Sapphire: Reclaiming Images of Black Women,” deconstructs the limiting categorizations mainstream culture allows black women. The artists on view reveal the shoddy nature of the stereotypes in favor of challenging, poetic and thorough visualizations of black culture ― the myth, the archetype, the self-portrait and beyond.

Characterizations commonly ascribed to black women in America are both historical and insidious. The Mammy ― a big-bosomed, jolly mother figure ― was written fictitiously into history to make slavery appear more humane. Her illusory existence suggested that there could, in fact, be such a thing as a happy slave. Today, the Mammy is often framed as a sexless, selfless nurturer.

Then there’s the Jezebel ― an overly sexualized, promiscuous black woman ― with a similarly atrocious origin story: her image was used to justify the sexual violence systematically inflicted upon black women in the antebellum South. Its influence persists to this day, making it more difficult for rape allegations by black women to be taken seriously.

And finally, the show addresses the image of Sapphire, named for the one-dimensional character on the radio and TV show “Amos ‘n’ Andy” ― an angry black woman. This cultural generalization, too, is a corollary of slavery and oppression. It calls back to a time when history overlooked the atrocities committed against black families and suggests instead that black women are inherently hostile, a foil to the delicate femininity of white women.
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BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Gift Ideas For Friends, Family or Yourself

article bvia madamenoire.com

Who says Black History Month isn’t a celebration? Check out 10 super chic items for you (or others) that celebrate blackness.

To see more options and to click through to buy, go to: I’m Black Y’all: 10 Black History Month Gifts For Yourself

Black History Month: Google Doodle Salutes Pioneering Sculptor Edmonia Lewis

Google Doodle of sculptor Edmonia Lewis (image via Google)

article by Michael Cavna via chicagotribune.com

To kick off its celebration of Black History Month, Google turns to a 19th century artist who burned so bright that her twin gifts of blazing talent and steely determination could not be denied even in the face of her era’s discrimination. Time and again, sculptor Edmonia Lewis — nicknamed “Wildfire” — faced obstacles and setbacks, yet she persevered as if her greatness were already cast.

Lewis was orphaned at age 9, when she was adopted by maternal aunts and joined their Mississauga tribe.  She endured bitter racial bias at Oberlin College, which she began attending at age 15; she was falsely accused of poisoning classmates and was beaten, and was ultimately denied the chance to graduate.

She then was refused apprenticeships in Civil War-era Boston, until she encountered the well-connected sculptor Edward Brackett, whose clients included well-known abolitionists.  And she would then run a small art studio in Rome (a space formerly used by neoclassicist Antonio Canova), eschewing assistants because she was often without the means of fellow expat artists in Italy.

Yet she would shine as the first woman of American Indian and African-American descent to discover international renown in the arts.

Wednesday’s Google Doodle, by artist Sophie Diao, salutes Lewis and her great work “The Death of Cleopatra,” which rests today in Washington at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. (Her work “Forever Free” resides nearby, with the Howard University Gallery of Art.) And the ribboned “Google” wording shines bright, befitting Lewis’s nickname.

To read more: Google Doodle salutes pioneering sculptor Edmonia Lewis to kick off Black History Month – Chicago Tribune

Chicago Teens Will Now Have Free Admission to Art Institute Of Chicago | WBEZ

Whitney Young Magnet High School senior Rosario Barrera and Kenwood Academy High School Junior Walela Greenlee, both members of the museum’s Teen Council, in the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing (photo via wbez.org)

article by Lakeidra Chavis via wbez.org

A University of Chicago alumnus and his wife have made it possible for some Chicago teens to visit the Art Institute of Chicago for free for at least the next 25 years. Glenn and Claire Swogger are a philanthropic couple from Kansas who gave the undisclosed gift to the museum.“We try to find programs that will help people have educational and cultural experiences that will be useful to them and good for society,” Glenn said.

Currently, children under 14 years old get free admission into the museum. But starting this week, the Swogger’s foundation will expand that to any Chicagoan under 18 years old. “There’s still the problem of (the teenagers) getting there, they might not have enough money jiggling in their pockets for them to come routinely to the Art Institute,” Glenn Swogger said.  He added the museum offers more than just art, including a variety of programs open to youths.“We just wanted to make it a little easier for young people to take advantage of that,” he said.

Art Institute spokeswoman Amanda Hicks said the donation was in the works for about a year, and the museum hopes it will help boost attendance from Chicago’s youth. Illinois art seekers who are over 18 years old can still visit the museum for free every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.

Source: Chicago Teens Will Now Have Free Access To The Art Institute Of Chicago | WBEZ

National Museum of African-American History and Culture is Sold Out Through March 2017!

Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC)

article via eurweb.com

To say the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is on everybody’s bucket list is an understatement. Put it like this. If you were planning to visit the new museum, unfortunately you’re going to have to wait until 2017.

Yep, it’s that popular. The museum has sold out tickets through March of 2017. Admission is free, but date-specific tickets are required for entry.

The museum opened in Washington, D.C. in September, and officials initially expected around 7,000 visitors per day.  Nearly 30,000 people visit the museum daily.

There are only two ways you can gain entry:  Go to the museum website and try to obtain a 2017 pass or line up outside the museum to try for a “day of” pass.

To read full article, go to: New African-American Museum is Sold Out Thru March, 2017!

Unreleased Basquiat Art From 1979 to 1981 to be Displayed at X Contemporary via Art Basel in Miami this December

Unreleased Basquiat Art From 1979 To 1981 To Be Displayed Soon

Jean-Michel Basquiat (photo via okayplayer.com)

A collection of unreleased work from Jean-Michel Basquiat will be unveiled this December at X Contemporary, a satellite event of Miami’s Art Basel.  According to a report from Art News, the exhibit will feature a range of Basquiat’s work — including paintings, collages, and drawings — created by the artist between 1979 and 1981, in his good friend Lonny Lichtenberg‘s New York apartment.

Curating the display will be another of Basquiat’s close friends, Al Diaz. The name Diaz might sound familiar, considering he’s the artist Basquiat collaborated with during his graffiti days, creating the infamous SAMO graffiti tag that was painted throughout the streets of downtown Manhattan in the late 1970s.

The show, hosted by Brooklyn’s Bishop Gallery, will run from November 30 to December 4, at Miami’s Nobu Hotel.

This news joins other recent Basquiat exhibit announcements, including one that’s happening in the UK. London’s Barbican Centre is hosting Boom For Real, the UK’s first large scale Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition, which will feature over 100 of the late New York artist’s works, with his most famous paintings lined up alongside notebooks and drawings.

To read more, go to: http://www.okayplayer.com/news/unreleased-basquiat-art-to-be-displayed-soon.html

Black Art Incubator Aims to Invert Art-World “Normal”, Offers Creative Space Rooted in Blackness

“We still have a running group text,” Drew (far left) says of her co-founders.

“We still have a running group text,” Kim Drew (far left) says of her co-founders. (photo by King Texas via villagevoice.com)

article by Mallika Rao via villagevoice.com

Kim Drew has been photographed in all shades of lipstick. Chalk-white, indigo — like she’s just had a Slurpee. When she walked into the Black Art Incubator on a recent Thursday, it was with red lips and a navy dress fit for a tennis court. At her chest hung a white pipe fragment, bought in Miami. “I wish I could remember the artist who made it,” she fretted when I admired the necklace.

She looked punk and prep, red-white-and-blue speared with a pipe. It’s a tension that shapes Drew’s work. She runs social media for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but she’s credited with starting a slow-burn revolution via Tumblr, arguably the lowest-fi gallery there is. Her high-traffic account Black Contemporary Art — a simple visual catalog of work by black artists — operates on the premise that black artists have been left out of art history. She slots them in without bitterness. “It’s either that people are recorded, or they’re not,” she tells me matter-of-factly.

That same current of low-key, savvy correction undergirds the Black Art Incubator, Drew’s new project, birthed with three other black women also in their twenties. Billed as a “social sculpture,” the incubator takes blackness — and all that racial identifier suggests about what a person might know or feel — as a given. To see the space as a critique, Drew says, is reductive. The project isn’t so much oppositional as an inversion of what we tend to expect. “Most art institutions are rooted in whiteness, but it’s implied, it’s this normalized thing,” she says. With the project, “we’re normalizing being rooted in blackness without beating people over the head with it.”

Drew and her co-founders — Jessica Bell Brown, an art historian, and Jessica Lynne and Taylor Renee Aldridge, both art writers — took a year to build the space and its offerings. “We still have a running group text,” Drew notes wryly. “It’s very internet. Very 2016.”

In practice, it wends a little 1960s. The incubator lives through August 19 at Recess, a residency space on the Lower East Side. The feel is of a secret clubhouse, convivial with an insider edge. You get the sense that while anyone is welcome, Berkeley coffeehouse–style, there’s more fun to be had if you’re part of the group. At quieter times, those anxieties recede; the space charms. A bench hugs the front window. Plants flare against white walls. Ginger cookies, mint tea, and a soulful Spotify playlist are all on tap.

Black Art Incubator
Recess
41 Grand Street
646-863-3765, recessart.org
Through August 19

During structured hours, there are sessions: Talks fall into two genres (“art and money” or “archive”), while “office hours” and “open crits” mimic MFA programming — but with the expectation that “you know who Richard Wright is,” as the legendary East Village artist Sur Rodney (Sur), who recently gave a talk, puts it to me via phone. The incubator interests him for how it overturns expectations of knowledge, eschewing the usual canon in favor of one not often taught in schools. “There’s a certain standard, a bibliography of material that we’ve all had to study,” he says, citing Moby Dick and Charles Dickens. On top of playing that game, people of color “have to do all this other research to understand where they fit in.”

Joshua Moton, a cellist who performed at an open crit last month, has experienced this firsthand. He explains the bodily discomfort his training in the European classical tradition gave him. In college, he found jazz. “Coltrane, Ayler, Silva, Davis,” he says. “I was able to heal,” to find “parts of the cello that I never really thought were there.” While crits are known as stress-bombs in academia, Moton says his — led by Adrienne Edwards, the dynamic curator-at-large of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, clad in metallic pants — felt like a “safe space.”

Therapeutic spaces face similar accusations as art schools over what their members tend to assume about their peers, whether to do with money, access, or personal history, and the incubator also addresses those issues. Moton, for one, returned the next day for a meditation hour. Here, too, he felt a difference. He drew a contrast for me, mentioning a yoga class he recently attended in which an Australian woman near him went on about “wage slaves,” throwing off his balance. “What does it mean to have a black space?” he asked. “When you can be a black person and breathe and not feel off.”

To read full article, go to: http://www.villagevoice.com/arts/black-art-incubator-aims-to-invert-art-world-normal-8960371