Philadelphia Resident Vashti Dubois Turns Home into Museum Dedicated to Black Women

Museum founder and proprietor Vashti Dubois (photo via metro.co.uk)

by Adam Smith via metro.co.uk

There is a museum like no other in Philadelphia. You would not have heard it, it is not listed anywhere and there are no signs from the motorway. Only the hand carved wooden sign in the garden hinted that the Victorian house was not like any other home in the world – and the woman who opened the door had the smile of someone who knew she was about to amaze you.

For years Vashti Dubois was sick of not seeing any images of black girls or women in museums and art galleries, so three years ago she decided to do something about it. The 56-year-old turned her house into The Colored Girls Museum, celebrating everything about black women and their place in the universe. Standing in the hallway, which screams with colour due to every inch being painted, she said: ‘If things ain’t right you got to make them right, and if you can change things, you gotta change them.’

After opening one room to the public, she decided to turn her bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen and her son’s bedroom into art galleries. Dubois said: ‘There are a lot of museums about a lot of different things, so we thought there should be one about the colored girl because there are no places that look at their experiences. We want to show who she is in her day-to-day life as a sister, a lover, a friend, an artist, a victim. We want to show that if there were no coloured girls, the system would collapse.’

As well as the museum’s collection of artefacts, paintings, dolls, textiles and sculptures, artists take over rooms and spaces for art installations. At first Dubois sought the help of artists she knew personally – but word soon spread, and soon she was being contacted by some of the world’s best upcoming artists.

To see related video, click herehttp://metro.co.uk/video/lack-female-images-exhibited-led-woman-create-gallery-1502225/?ito=vjs-link

And unlike most museums, this is personal. There are no walking tours headsets, no bored-looking security guards, and not a gift shop in sight.

So to enjoy culture for culture’s sake in Vashti’s home felt like an honor.

The Colored Girls Museum is a memoir museum, which honours the stories, experiences, and history of black girls. And it is Vashti’s story too.

She said: ‘Colored girls are an important part of the universe. You see us walking down the street. Everyday colored girls. You walk past us, but here we are in all of our extraordinary splendor doing the things that we do to make this world a great place to live.

‘We aren’t all Michelles (Obama) and Beyoncés. But look at how we are holding everything together for families across the world.’

The Birmingham Girls at The Colored Girls Museum. (Picture: TCGM)

When visitors arrive, Vashti explains to them that she started collecting paintings and sculptures three years ago after a personal tragedy. Then she takes them a tour of the house.

‘She distinguishes herself by exclusively collecting, preserving, honoring, and decoding artifacts pertaining to the experience and “her story” of colored girls,’ Vashti said.

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Sci-Fi Writer Octavia Butler’s Inspirational Notes to Herself on Display at Huntington Library in CA Through 8/7

Octavia Butler is pictured in 2004 near some of her novels at a store in Seattle. (Joshua Trujillo / Associated Press)

by Karen Wada via latimes.com

Octavia E. Butler was a powerful and pioneering voice in science-fiction. The first black woman acclaimed as a master of the genre, she was known for vivid, expertly crafted tales that upended conventional ideas about race, gender and humanity. Although her creations were bold, Butler, who grew up poor in Pasadena, was “a private, reflective person who struggled with shyness and self-doubt,” said Natalie Russell, curator of a new exhibition at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA.

How such struggles influenced her life and art is one of the themes explored in “Octavia E. Butler: Telling My Stories.” Russell said the show uses an invaluable resource — the author’s archive — to examine both her published work and “who she was as told through her personal papers.”

One of Octavia Butler’s Notes to Self (photo via latimes.com)

Butler, who died at 58 in 2006, willed the Huntington 354 boxes of materials, a bequest Russell describes as “huge and unedited because Octavia kept everything and passed away unexpectedly after a fall.” She said the exhibition, which runs through Aug. 7, presents about 100 items, including manuscripts, photographs and notebooks filled with writing and self-motivational notes, including one that reads in part, “My novels go onto the bestseller lists. … So be it! See to it!”

Butler started writing science-fiction as a child. She spent years working to establish her career — and a new vision of what’s possible in a genre dominated by white men. Along the way, Russell said, she needed reassurance and reinforcement.

To read more, go to: At the Huntington, see the inspirational note black sci-fi writer Octavia Butler wrote to herself – LA Times

NFL QB and Activist Colin Kaepernick to have Memorabilia Featured at National Museum of African American History and Culture

Colin Kaepernick (photo via Getty Images)

by thegrio.com

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is already looking to include Colin Kaepernick in it halls. Director Lonnie Bunch reached out to sociologist Harry Edwards as the museum was being developed, and Edwards was part of the game-changers exhibit featuring famous black sports stars and their impact on the world. To that end, Edwards recently donated a collection of Kaepernick’s memorabilia to the museum, suggesting that they should put up an exhibit featuring Kaepernick sooner than later.

“I said, ‘Don’t wait 50 years to try to get some memorabilia and so forth on Kaepernick,’ ” Edwards told USA TODAY Sports. “ ‘Let me give you a game jersey, some shoes, a picture … And it should be put right there alongside Muhammad Ali. He’s this generation’s Ali.’ ”

Kaepernick was rocketed to nationwide attention when he decided to take a knee during he national anthem in protest of the state of race relations in the United States, a decision that prompted a wave of similar protests across the country.

To read more, go to: Colin Kaepernick memorabilia to be featured at the Smithsonian | theGrio

Photo of Jazz Legend Ella Fitzgerald Going on Display at National Portrait Gallery Museum in D.C.

via blackamericaweb.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Portrait Gallery is putting up a photograph of American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, often referred to as “The First Lady of Song.”

The portrait is on view beginning Thursday, ahead of the 100th anniversary of Fitzgerald’s birth. Fitzgerald, who died in 1996 at the age of 79, would have celebrated her 100th birthday April 25.

The National Portrait Gallery said in a statement the photograph on display is of Fitzgerald in performance flanked by Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Jackson. It was taken around 1974 by William Gottlieb, who learned to use a camera to take pictures to accompany his weekly music column for The Washington Post. It’s the first time the photograph has been displayed at the museum.

It will be on view through May 14.

Source: Photo Of Ella Fitzgerald Going On Display At DC Museum | Black America Web

“The HeLa Project” Exhibition Travels to NY, ATL to Honor Mortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Before Premiere of HBO Film

(image via wn.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Exhibition to Feature Artist Kadir Nelson and Poet Saul Williams.

HBO recently announced the official launch of “The HeLa Project,” a culturally-grounded, multi-media exhibition inspired by the highly-anticipated HBO film, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne, which will premiere on April 22. Directed by George C. Wolfethe film is based on Rebecca Skloot’s critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller of the same name.

The film tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line that ultimately led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, changing countless lives and the face of medicine forever.

“The HeLa Project” is designed to celebrate Henrietta Lacks, the woman – to give her a voice and to humanize and recognize her. The exhibition features an original portrait by two-time Caldecott Honor Award winning artist Kadir Nelson and an original poem by Saul Williams. Additional art, curated by Lewis Long of Long Gallery Harlem, includes works by Derrick Adams, Zoe Buckman, Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich, Doreen Garner, and Tomashi Jackson.  The product of these elements, plus an educational, sculptural installation about the HeLa cells, all converge in this engaging experience.

(image vialewis museum.org)

The  exhibition debuted last week in Baltimore at the Reginald Lewis Museum, and  will run April 7th – April 9th in SoHo, New York (465 W. Broadway, Fri – Sat, 11am – 7pm, Sun 12pm – 5pm).

“The HeLa Project” will be making additional stops in Atlanta, GA on April 13th – April 16th at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

ART: Kerry James Marshall’s Masterful “Mastry” Exhibit Opens Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Works from Kerry James Marshall’s “Mastry” exhibition (collage by Maeve Richardson)

by Callie Teitelbaum

The “Mastry” Gallery, created by African-American artist Kerry James Marshall, walks you through Marshall’s journey of making it as a fine artist – a field dominated by whites for centuries.  Marshall was born in Alabama in 1955, and as a child was a part of the last wave of The Great Migration to the west, a region still full of promise and opportunity. Marshall’s family settled in South Central Los Angeles and while growing up in Watts, Marshall pursued art and was an active participant in the movement that encouraged an increase of black artists in the art community.  All of Marshall’s work contributed to his mission to prove that art by blacks was just as challenging and beautiful as the white art which was typically celebrated.

The exhibit shows Marshall’s earlier works such as “The Invisible Man,” which is a collection of small scale portraits of people using the darkest shades of black, emphasizing Marshall’s idea that black people in society blend into the background.  The exhibition displays how Marshall’s work developed, and include many of his large scale paintings.

Marshall changed the style of his work because he realized that a big statement called for a grander canvas.  A large three-piece work called “Heirlooms and Accessories,” appears to be a necklace with a woman’s face in it at first glance.  However, once one’s eyes adjust to the painting, fine lines start to become more distinct, and it is clear that there is a lynching occurring in the background.  The faces in the painting are witnesses at the lynching, and the expressions of indifference are utterly shocking. While “Heirlooms and Accessories” seem to be referring to the necklaces, accessories serves as a double meaning because it also refers to those who were accessories to murder.  This is a prime example of the depth and meaning behind each of Marshall’s work.

“Harriet Tubman” by Kerry James Marshall

All of the paintings reflect Marshall’s commentary on black identity in the U.S. and in traditional western art.  In his piece “Harriet Tubman,” Marshall paints an image of Harriet Tubman on her wedding day, with hands with white gloves essentially hanging this piece of art in a museum.  Marshall’s feeling that museums are responsible for the lack of black art is portrayed in this piece.  Museums typically hold the standard of what is beautiful and worthy, and Marshall makes the direct statement of what should be celebrated in this work.

The exhibition is especially engaging because of the varying emotions each work provokes.  While pieces such as “Slow Dance,” which illustrates two people peacefully dancing, provokes calmness and peace, other pieces express injustice and anger.  Marshall’s versatility and innate talent for art is clear as his work consists of completely different mediums and subjects.  The exhibition allows you to fully observe all of Marshall’s different forms of art and varying ideas, and is not limited to a specific time period or brand of art.

Marshall’s range of mediums and subjects include large to small scale, canvas paintings to comics, common people to historical figures, and glittery mediums to the blackest of paint.  This ability to effectively utilize different forms of art makes Marshall a unique artist, and a unique person who has learned to effectively communicate in a way people of all race, gender, and social class can understand.  Marshall’s works are visually stunning to say the least, and his success in spreading the meaning of his art and pursuing his career despite the circumstances of racial discrimination, is truly inspiring.

The Mastry exhibit opens on March 12 at the Museum Of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and runs through July 3.

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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