PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A new exhibit created by a University of Pennsylvania professor and host of a popular public television show examines how wartime propaganda has been used to motivate oppressed populations to risk their lives for homelands that considered them second-class citizens.
“Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster,” opens Sunday and continues until March 2 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Lectures, film screenings and other programming will be rolled out over the course of the exhibit’s run.
The exhibit’s 33 posters, dating from the American Civil War to both World Wars and the African independence movements, are part of the personal collection of Tukufu Zuberi, Penn professor of sociology and African studies and a host of the Public Broadcasting Service series “History Detectives.”
Zuberi began his collection in 2005 and owns 48 posters in all. There are five he’s seeking to complete his collection, but he’s not divulging any specifics. “Oh, I don’t want to go there,” he said with a laugh. “If I say anything, then there’s going to be someone out there with more money and I won’t be able to buy anything again.”
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The house band for NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” is living large in its hometown of Philadelphia. Members of The Roots are now depicted on a multistory mural on the back wall of a school. The group attended a dedication of the project on Friday, May 31st.
The mural is called “Legendary.” It uses a colorful collage of images to trace the history of the Grammy Award-winning hip-hop group. Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson says it’s difficult to believe how far the band has come since its founding in the city in 1992. The art project was created by the city’s Mural Arts Program. There are more than 3,600 murals in Philadelphia.
Virginia Johnson, the artistic director of Dance Theater of Harlem, with her dancers, at an open rehearsal. (Andrea Mohin/The New York Times)
In the early days of Dance Theater of Harlem its members, charged with proving to the world that black dancers could master ballet, needed a certain pluck. “It was a group of young dancers that went out and carried their own lights and did lecture-demonstrations and started performing,” said Laveen Naidu, 45, the organization’s executive director.
That scrappy image has served Virginia Johnson well. The elegant artistic director of Dance Theater of Harlem — and its star ballerina for 28 years — Ms. Johnson, 63, was reminded of such humble beginnings last spring, when she held auditions for the rebirth of the company. (It had been forced to go on hiatus in 2004 when it announced its $2.3 million debt.) As Ms. Johnson put it, she had stars in her eyes. But she was in for a surprise.
“I was really shocked at how few African-Americans auditioned,” she said. “And that was the moment when we were looking in this room, and it was like, ‘No, but where are the black people?’ ”
She laughed, as she often does when describing a seemingly hopeless situation. “I thought about Arthur Mitchell with all the hodgepodge of dancers that came to him back in 1969 that he had to make into a company. I said, ‘O.K., it’s the same thing again, and this is great.’ It was actually more exciting than taking top-level dancers and making them into a company. It meant that we had to have that inner-grit thing going again.”
Dance Theater, formed by Mr. Mitchell and Karel Shook, took on the barrier-breaking mission of training and presenting black classical ballet dancers to the world. For years the company was more than a thriving, internationally touring troupe. It showed that ballet was no longer just a white domain. But then the company disappeared, leaving a gaping hole. One year off turned into nine; disillusionment set in. Now Dance Theater is making a comeback. Beginning Wednesday the company, lean at just 18 members from 44 in 2004, will perform at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Elizabeth City State University, the historically Black educational institution in North Carolina, recently opened its new Kermit E. White Graduate and Continuing Education Center. The center houses the university’s art gallery.
One section of the gallery will display pieces from the university’s permanent collection of African and African American art. The other part of the gallery will exhibit a rotating selection or a visiting collection.
Professor Alexis Joyner, chair of the art department at the university, loaned eight pieces from his personal collection for the opening exhibit. In addition, works by Leonard Jones, a former professor at Virginia State University and Charles Joyner of North Carolina State University are in the opening exhibit.
The accompanying illustration shows one of the pieces in the exhibit, “Guitar Player” by Leonard Jones.
PRINCETON, NJ – The Princeton University Art Museum presents Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, an exhibition exploring the presence of Africans and their descendants in Europe from the late 1400s to the early 1600s and the roles these individuals played in society as reflected in art. Africans living in or visiting Europe during this time included artists, aristocrats, saints, slaves, and diplomats. The exhibition of vivid portraits created from life—themselves a part of the wider Renaissance focus on the identity and perspective of the individual—encourages face-to-face encounters with these individuals and poses questions about the challenges of color, class, and stereotypes that a new diversity brought to Europe. Aspects of this material have long been studied by scholars, but this exhibition marks the first time the subject has been presented to a wider American public.
Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe will be on view at the Princeton University Art Museum from February 16, 2013 to June 9, 2013, and will feature over 65 paintings, sculptures, prints, manuscripts, and printed books by great artists such as Dürer, Bronzino, Pontormo, Veronese, and Rubens. Organized by the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore in collaboration with the Princeton University Art Museum, the exhibition includes artworks drawn from major museums and private collections across Europe and the United States, including works from both Princeton and the Walters.
“The exhibition focuses new attention on an important but poorly understood aspect of Western history and the history of representation and thus continues our commitment to expanding the borders of scholarship and public understanding,” according to Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward. “This exhibition affords an exceptional opportunity to discover great works of art and encourages us to reflect on our understanding of cultural identity both past and present.”
The presence of Africans and their descendants in Europe was partially a consequence of the drive for new markets beginning in the late 1400s. This included the importation of West Africans as slaves, supplanting the trade of slaves of Slavic origin. There was also increasing conflict with North African Muslims and heightened levels of diplomatic and trade initiatives by African monarchs.
The State Museum in Albany, NY is marking the 100th birthday of photographer Gordon Parks with an exhibit of his works. The show opens on Jan. 26 and will showcase six decades of Parks’ photographs. It will include his most famous photo, “American Gothic, Washington, D.C.,” which shows a black cleaning woman standing in front of an American flag with a broom and a mop.
State Education Commissioner John King says Parks’ work helped drive the Civil Rights movement by exposing the stark realities of life faced by many African Americans.
The State Museum display is organized by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The exhibit includes images from the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information collections at the Library of Congress.
President Barack Obama, accompanied by children who wrote to the president about gun violence following last month’s school shooting in the US, signs executive orders. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP
Barack Obama signs a series of executive actions in favour of gun control, flanked by children who wrote to him after the killings at Sandy Hook. Their parents or guardians stand behind them. While the children reflect the president’s solemnity, the supervising adults are finding it hard not to grin with pride at their kids’ involvement in this historic occasion.
But if you think that you probably haven’t got a child. Or perhaps you rationalised the US’s horror at the shootings that led to this photograph as colossal hypocrisy in the face of alleged massacres of non-American children by military drones. For some on the left it seems Obama is little better than a child murderer himself, while for the gun-toting right, his desire to restrict gun access is an assault on freedoms defined in the 18th-century political discourse that is the Constitution of the United States:
“A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
And this is the point of Obama’s photo opportunity with America’s children. The debate about gun control is a debate about history and its burdens. When that amendment was added to the constitution in 1791, the authors surely did not think they were setting down the Ten Commandments of national identity, to be preserved unaltered forever. Or if they did, well … they are dead.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims, with Jessye Norman, at right, at City Center. (Photo: Andrea Mohin/The New York Times)
On Wednesday evening Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater settled into City Center for its annual season with a nod to the past and a look to the future. Amid the din of shrill greetings — this was a gala, after all — Samuel Lee Roberts worked his way across the stage, jabbing the tips of his toes into the floor until his knees buckled and his spine contorted inelegantly. It was an arresting and, for Ailey, an unusual sight, yet few grasped that “Minus 16,” by the Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, had even begun.
This introduction requires a dancer to perform an improvised solo rooted in Gaga, a method of training that focuses more on sensation than technique. In “Minus 16,” based on excerpts from Mr. Naharin’s past works and a welcome addition to last season’s repertory, dancers trade their customary expressions of joy or sorrow for impassive stares.
The thirty-five-year-old choreographer Kyle Abraham has come a long way in just a few years. In 2006, he established his company, Abraham.In.Motion, and since then has produced dances that have earned him awards and critical acclaim. In December, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre will première a work that it commissioned from him. For someone whose career has taken off in such a big way, though, he retains a strong connection to his Pittsburgh roots, and shows great integrity in his dance-making, both of which were evident in his newest work, “Pavement,” which Abraham presented recently at Harlem Stage.
Abraham, who is African-American, went to high school in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, a historically black neighborhood, and in several of his previous works he drew on his experiences there. For “Pavement,” he went back to 1991, to reimagine the film “Boyz n the Hood,” about gangs in South Central Los Angeles, which was released that summer. He used the film as a springboard for examining life in Pittsburgh’s African-American communities in the Hill District and East Liberty Homewood and reflecting on the state of the black American experience in the two decades since its release.
But Abraham’s conception was even more sweeping. He also wanted to look at the history that had preceded the strife represented in “Boyz n the Hood,” and found a pertinent source in “The Souls of Black Folk,” the 1903 book by W. E. B. Du Bois, whose essays became instrumental in African-Americans’ struggle for equality in the twentieth century. Du Bois’s text made no appearance in “Pavement,” but Abraham included a quote from it in the program, which hovered over the dance: “Men call the shadow prejudice, and learnedly explain it as a natural defense of culture against barbarism, learning against ignorance, purity against crime, the ‘higher’ against the ‘lower’ races.” In the light of Du Bois’s words from more than a century ago, the realities as depicted in the film are sobering. From the perspective of 1991, when the ravages of H.I.V., crack addiction, and gang genocide were entrenched, not much seems to have gone right.
Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is holding an exhibition called “Visions of Our 44th President“. It features 44 contemporary African-American artists using different styles and mediums of choice, all adding to a blank bust of President Barack Obama.