Tag: University Of Chicago

Universities Partner to Produce the Official Oral History of Barack Obama’s Presidency

President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza via commons.wikipedia.org)

The Obama Foundation has selected the Columbia Center for Oral History Research to produce the official oral history of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

The project will provide a comprehensive, enduring record of the decisions, actions, and effects of his historic administration. The University of Hawai’i and the University of Chicago will also serve as contributing partners for the project, documenting Obama’s early life in Hawaii and his years in Chicago, respectively.

“Michelle Obama famously observed, ‘You can’t really understand Barack until you understand Hawai’i,’” said University of Hawai’i President David Lassner. “UH and our extraordinary Center for Oral History are looking forward to exploring those early days with those who were part of President Obama’s story.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with Columbia on this exciting project,” said University of Chicago faculty members Adam Green and Jacqueline Stewart in a joint statement. “The stories of Michelle and Barack Obama are intertwined with the story of Chicago and the South Side in particular. We look forward to contributing to that historic narrative, with a focus on how their city helped to shape them as civic leaders.”

Starting this summer and over the next five years, the Obama Presidency Oral History Project will conduct interviews with some 400 people, including senior leaders and policy makers within the Obama administration, as well as elected officials, campaign staff, journalists, and other key figures outside the White House.

The project will also incorporate interviews with individuals representing different dimensions of daily American life, whose perspectives will enable the archive to include how the general public was affected by the Obama administration’s decisions. Additionally, the research team will collect information about Michelle Obama’s work and legacy as First Lady.

“We are honored to document the legacy of President Obama. Our goal is to set a new benchmark for presidential oral histories in terms of the diversity and breadth of narratives assembled and depth of understanding achieved,” said Mary Marshall Clark, director of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and a project co-investigator. “Central to our project is a commitment to candidly document the stories of key administration alumni and bring them into conversation with the varied experiences of Americans from all walks of life.”

In addition to hosting the project, Columbia has announced the formation of the Obama Presidency Oral History Advisory Board, composed of leading presidential historians, authors, and scholars who can speak to how the Obama administration affected the lives of those inside and outside of Washington D.C.

To read more: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/06/universities-partner-to-produce-the-official-oral-history-of-barack-obamas-presidency/

Premier Health Urgent Care, a Black-Owned Urgent Care Center, Opens in Chicago’s Hyde Park Neighborhood

PREMIER HEALTH URGENT CARE is open for business in Chicago’s Southside Hyde Park community. Its founding team members photographed above recently celebrated the grand opening with a community event. Pictured above from (L to R): Dr. Mike McGee; Germaine Henderson, APN; Renita White, PA-C; Jennifer Kirk, AP; Dr. Airron Richardson and Dr. Reuben Rutland.

Premier Health Urgent Care and OCC-Health Center strives to provide outstanding and efficient healthcare while curbing area youth violence.

Premier Health Urgent Care, the only urgent care facility in the Southside’s Hyde Park neighborhood, and the only Black-owned urgent care possibly in the city of Chicago has opened for business, according to the Chicago Crusader.

With a commitment to providing affordable community care, a portion of profits from the center will be donated to the Project Outreach and Prevention (POP) organization, which aims to prevent youth violence in surrounding neighborhoods by providing resources, services and education to assist teens in making better life-long choices.

Premier’s founders include board certified emergency medicine physicians Airron Richardson, MD, MBA, FACEP and Michael A. McGee, MD, MPH, FACEP and board-certified trauma surgeon and United States Navy veteran Reuben C. Rutland MD, MBA. The facility was launched in partnership with Dr. Gregory Primus, former Chicago Bears wide receiver and the first African American trained in orthopedic surgery at the University of Chicago.

“We are happy to open an urgent care in Hyde Park because the community needs it. I see so many urban professionals who either delay or go without care because of time constraints. No one has 8 hours to wait in the emergency department for a minor illness or the flexibility to wait 3 weeks because their primary care doctor is booked solid. We are here to help fill that gap,” says Dr. Rutland. “We are not in competition with the doctors’ offices or the emergency department. We are a supplement to them both, to help relieve the stress on those two facilities.” Continue reading “Premier Health Urgent Care, a Black-Owned Urgent Care Center, Opens in Chicago’s Hyde Park Neighborhood”

Coca-Cola Executive G. Scott Uzzell Named President & CEO of Converse, Inc. by NIKE

by Ny Magee via thegrio.com

NIKE has named Florida A&M University alumni and FAMU Foundation Board member, G. Scott Uzzell, President and CEO of Converse, Inc., the company announced Friday, Dec 21.

According to The AP, Uzzell comes to Converse from The Coca-Cola Company where he most recently served as President, Venturing & Emerging Brands Group (VEB).

“Scott’s unique blend of experience driving both strategic business growth and strong brand development is well-suited to help unlock the full potential of the Converse Brand and lead its next phase of growth globally,” said Michael Spillane, President, Categories and Product, NIKE, Inc.

Uzzell began his career in sales and marketing at various companies, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Nabisco and has held leadership positions at brands such as  McDonald’s U.S. Division. Is that’s not impressive enough he reportedly serves on the boards of State Bank and Trust Co., Fairlife LLC and Suja Juice Co.

As head of Coca-Cola’s VEB Group, Uzzell led the development portfolio of high-growth brands for The Coca-Cola Company, including Honest Tea, ZICO Coconut Water, Fairlife Milk and Suja Juice, famunews.com reports.

Uzzell holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida A&M. He is also a member of the FAMU’s Foundation Board as well as a member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC).

Uzzell starts work at Converse on Jan. 22 and will report directly to Michael Spillane, President, Categories and Product, NIKE, Inc. Uzzell reportedly replaces Davide Grassowho retires at the end of the year.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/12/22/nike-names-hbcu-alum-g-scott-uzzell-president-ceo-of-converse/

After Almost a Decade of Activism and Protests, Chicago’s South Side Finally Has an Adult Trauma Center Again

After years of protest, amid an epidemic of gun violence, a Level 1 adult trauma center has opened in Chicago’s South Side. (Credit: Rob Hart)

by Daniel A. Gross via newyorker.com

In August, 2010, an eighteen-year-old named Damian Turner, an aspiring musician and community organizer, was caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting on Chicago’s South Side. The bullet entered his body four blocks—one minute by car—from the University of Chicago Medical Center. But paramedics, following protocol, drove him nearly nine miles away, to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. City and state regulations dictate that gunshot victims be taken to a specialized trauma center, and the South Side was a “trauma desert.” Despite its epidemic of gun violence, it has not had its own Level 1 adult trauma center since the nineteen-nineties. At Northwest Memorial, Turner, the co-founder of the youth branch of Southside Together Organizing for Power, or stop, was pronounced dead.

Turner’s death marked the beginning of a movement. His mother told newspapers that he would have lived if not for the university’s lack of facilities. One of Turner’s fellow-activists, Brittany Blaney, suggested at a community meeting that locals hold the U.C.M.C. accountable. A hundred people marched to the hospital from the spot where Turner was shot. A year later, protesters camped out in tents. They argued that the U.C.M.C. had shirked its responsibility to its neighborhood. But university officials resisted. “You would have to transfer resources from the other things we do, and the things we do extraordinarily well and not a lot of other people do, and focus those resources on being an additional trauma center,” a spokesman for the medical center said at the time. Alex Goldenberg, now the executive director of stop, told me, “It took us two years just to get them to acknowledge that it was a problem.” Sharon O’Keefe, the president of the hospital, said, “We were obviously well aware of the community that we reside in. But it took us quite a period of time to really evaluate the broader needs of the community.”

One of the activists’ demands was that the university, which operated a pediatric trauma center, raise the age limit on admittance for children with gunshot wounds. In December, 2014, the university announced that it would raise the limit by two years, to include anyone younger than eighteen. This was a start. A few months later, during the university’s Alumni Weekend, Goldenberg and eight others locked themselves inside a university administration building. The fire department had to cut its way in with axes.

O’Keefe told me that, around that time, the hospital was considering “a more comprehensive plan that was more responsive to the demands of the community,” but it needed a way to cover the costs. “What we didn’t want to do was come up with a short-term response,” she told me. In September, 2015, the university announced plans to co-found a trauma center at Holy Cross Hospital, west of U.C.M.C. But officials soon realized that it would be too costly to help run a new facility five miles away. Finally, the following December, Goldenberg got an unexpected call from a university vice-president. “I have good news for you,” he said. The medical center had decided to open a Level 1 adult trauma center on campus.

The new center opens on May 1st. One of the doctors who will work there is Abdullah Pratt, a resident in emergency medicine. We first met about a year after the university announced its intention to open the trauma center, in a nearly empty U.C.M.C. waiting area, just after sunrise. Pratt, who has a thick beard and wears horn-rimmed glasses, had been working at the hospital since six o’clock the previous evening, and he looked it. He had seen patients with liver failure, vaginal bleeding, and cancer. “This is my fifth straight overnight shift,” he said. But he had stuck around to tell me about the trauma center, and the years of community activism that helped make it happen.

Pratt grew up on the South Side, just south of the hospital, which makes him extremely unusual among University of Chicago medical students and faculty. His was a neighborhood of both poverty and promise, shared by lawyers, athletes, gang members, and drug addicts. One of his friends was shot and killed after he bumped into a man’s girlfriend at a club, spilling her drink. “Everybody’s got a closet full of T-shirts with their friends or family members on it,” he said. Following in the footsteps of his brother Rashad, Pratt attended science camps and played high-school football. He went to college at Valparaiso. By the time he entered medical school, he was living in a high-rise apartment on the edge of Lake Michigan. Once, he showed it off to his brother, who reminded him of the importance of giving back to his community. “Never sell out,” Rashad told him. “You ain’t gonna be shit if you don’t put on for your block.”

Seven months later, Pratt got a call from his mother about Rashad. “He been shot,” she told him. “He’s killed.” Rashad had been sitting in his truck, in front of a friend’s house, when a stranger approached him with a gun. Rashad owned a handgun and tried to defend himself, but he was shot below the ribs, and the bullet hit his heart. “I don’t think that the pain will ever get as bad as that,” Pratt told me. “I know that there’s nobody immune from it. Every young person that I mentor, every one of my friends, has lost somebody. It’s a collective pain.”

After the shooting, Pratt considered taking a break from school. But he thought about his brother’s commitment to giving back, and he listened to a mentor who told him, “You have to use this.” Although a local trauma center would not have saved Rashad’s life, Pratt knew that it could save many others. “I began fighting for those issues, and stopping violence, and going to more of the community demonstrations,” he said. He eventually met with university officials, including O’Keefe, and tried to serve as a mediator between frustrated community members and the U.C.M.C. bureaucracy. “It was literally the only thing that allowed me to sleep at night,” he said.

Chicago first standardized its trauma-center network after the shooting death of another young black man, Benji Wilson, in 1984. Wilson was a seventeen-year-old basketball star. He was shot twice, in Chatham, on the South Side. He died after a long wait for an ambulance and a belated surgery at a local hospital that did not specialize in trauma. Several South Side institutions, including the University of Chicago, subsequently opened adult trauma centers. But trauma care is costly, serves patients who are not always able to pay, and receives little government support. The U.C.M.C. trauma center, which opened in 1986, was a financial failure, and it closed in 1988. “Then we got out of the business,” O’Keefe told me. Within a few years, every Level 1 adult trauma center on the South Side had shut down. In 2013, a study of Chicago gunshot victims showed that those who were shot more than five miles from a trauma center were disproportionately black and uninsured. Not surprisingly, they died at higher rates than other gunshot victims.

Selwyn Rogers, who was hired to direct the new adult trauma center, said he was initially surprised when he learned the U.C.M.C. didn’t already have one. But he hopes that the center can reduce the stark inequality between the university and its surroundings. He pointed out that Hyde Park, the university’s immediate neighborhood, has a life expectancy of more than eighty years. “Literally within a mile of where the University of Chicago sits, in Washington Park, the life expectancy is sixty-nine,” he said.

In addition to building a new emergency department, the U.C.M.C. has hired eighteen medical faculty and numerous staff members, so that patients have around-the-clock access to specialized care.

To read full article, go to: https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/chicagos-south-side-finally-has-an-adult-trauma-center-again

Noted Political Scientist Dr. Charles V. Hamilton Establishes Research Institute at DuSable Museum in Chicago

DuSable Museum in Chicago (photo via timeout.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Dr. Charles V. Hamilton, a political scientist, activist and Professor Emeritus at Columbia University best known for his 1967 book co-written with Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America, has established The Drs. Charles V. and Dona C. Hamilton Institute for Research and Civic Involvement at the DuSable Museum of African American History.  The DuSable is scheduled to open the Hamilton Institute’s Reading Room on Monday, February 19, 2018 with a special dedication event.

The Hamilton Institute will provide a range of opportunities for visitors to peruse its non-circulating reference collection, including a special collection of rare books, to research the DuSable Museum archives and to attend scholarly lectures and history & policy discussions, many of which will be directed toward youth audiences to inspire their interest and encourage their involvement in topics that affect the African American community. Visitors to the Hamilton Institute’s Reading Room will include educators, authors, photo researchers, independent scholars, journalists, students, historians, community members and others. Visitors will be allowed access to the DuSable Museum Archives, one of the oldest and richest African American archival collections in the nation, which includes manuscripts, books and journals, photographs, slides, and other printed materials.

Dr. Charles V. Hamilton (photo via columbia.edu)

“I was interested in combining academic studies with political action. My concern was not only to profess but to participate. I see the DuSable Museum as a repository of study of those efforts; and people will come look at them with those eyes; that people will see someone who not just wrote books but participated,” said Dr. Charles V. Hamilton.

Although Dr. Charles V. Hamilton was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, raised on the South Side of Chicago, and educated at Roosevelt University, Loyola University and the University of Chicago. The contribution to establish the Hamilton Research Institute and Reading Room is one that supports the continuation of progressive development for the city of Chicago—a place near and dear to Dr. Hamilton. His donation represents one of the largest individual gifts in the DuSable Museum’s history.

When President Truman integrated the military (1948), Hamilton served for a year. A chronicler of the Civil Rights Movement, he was a young adult at the time of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56). He lived through the Jim Crow era and witnessed the political transformation that made possible the election of Black officials in the South. Watching the unfolding of civil rights history informed and enriched his scholarship as he created a role for himself as an intellectual amongst activists.

In 1969, Hamilton arrived at Columbia University as a Ford Foundation funded professor in urban political science and became one of the first African Americans to hold an academic chair at an Ivy League university. It was the height of the turbulent 1960s and the nation was reeling from assassinations, demonstrations and riots. Hamilton was at the peak of his fame as the intellectual half of the “Black Power Duo.”

The activist half was Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture), a former leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, self-professed Black Nationalist and nascent Pan-Africanist. In a brilliant stroke, Hamilton had teamed up with Carmichael, a folk hero and icon for his generation to write what would be Hamilton’s most famous book, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America (1967).

“This is a game changer for the DuSable Museum,” said Perri Irmer, President and CEO. “The over-arching mission of this institution is the education of all people through African American history, art and culture. The creation of the Hamilton Institute gives concrete form to this education mission, allowing us to present a commitment to a superior level of scholarly activity and engagement. Now, thanks to Dr. Hamilton, we will have the infrastructure and a vehicle for the engagement of young audiences and visitors of all ages, from around the world, in what I believe will become a center for black thought leadership and intellectual exploration. What better place to do this but Chicago, and in what finer institution than the DuSable Museum of African American History?”

About The Hamilton Research Institute and Reading Room

The Drs. Charles V. and Dona C. Hamilton Institute for Research and Civic Involvement’s Reading Room will be open by appointment only, Tuesday through Saturday to anyone who is at least 14 years of age or in the ninth grade (younger visitors must be accompanied by an adult). The Hamilton Institute staff will provide a range of services to visitors interested in conducting research in the Museum. Reading Room Procedures and Policies will be made available on DuSable’s website, and visitors will be able to make follow-up appointments as related to research needs during the time of their visit.

About The DuSable Museum of African American History

The DuSable Museum of African American History is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the country. Their mission is to promote understanding and inspire appreciation of the achievements, contributions and experiences of African Americans through exhibits, programs and activities that illustrate African and African American history, culture and art. The DuSable Museum is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. For more information on the Museum and its programs, call 773-947-0600 or visit at www.dusablemuseum

Eight African Americans Earn Truman Scholarships for Graduate Study in 2017

Dontae Bell, Taylor Cofield, Lexis Ivers, Chelsea Jackson, Thomas Mitchell, Kathleen Nganga, Shyheim Snead, and Soreti Teshome (photos via jbhe.com)

article via jbhe.com

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation has announced the selection of the 2017 Truman Scholars. Each Truman Scholar is awarded up to $30,000 for graduate study. They also receive priority admission to several top-tier graduate schools, have career and graduate school counseling opportunities, and are fast-tracked for internships within the federal government.

Truman Scholars must be U.S. citizens and be in the top 25 percent of their college class. They must express a commitment to government service or the nonprofit sector. Since the establishment of the program in 1975, 3,139 students have been named Truman Scholars.

This year, 62 Truman scholars were selected from 768 candidates nominated by 315 colleges and universities. While the foundation does not release data on the racial and ethnic make up of Truman Scholars, a JBHE analysis of this year’s class of 62 Truman Scholars, concludes that it appears that 8, or 12.9 percent, are African Americans. Here are brief biographies of the African Americans named Truman Scholars this year:

Dontae Bell is a junior at Howard University in Washington, D.C., studying economics and military science. He is a member of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and was selected as a pilot candidate this spring. After graduation, Dontae will commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Eventually, he hopes to earn a master of public administration degree before pursuing a career in public service.

Taylor Cofield is a junior political science and international studies major with a minor in Middle East studies at the University of Missouri. She also is studying Arabic. Cofield is a member of the university’s track team and is current legislative intern with the Missouri State Senate. Upon graduation, she hopes to fulfill a two-year assignment in the Peace Corps and then pursue a dual master’s and law degree program in contemporary Arab studies and national security law.

Lexis Ivers is a third-year student at American University in Washington, D.C., where she studies law and policy. She is the founder and director of Junior Youth Action DC, a mentorship program focused on the academic and personal development of foster youth. She plans to pursue a career in child welfare law, which will allow her to advocate for children when foster care systems fail.
Continue reading “Eight African Americans Earn Truman Scholarships for Graduate Study in 2017”

Barack Obama to Hold 1st Public Event This Monday at University of Chicago

Former President Barack Obama (photo via chicagotribune.com)

article by Katherine Skiba via chicagotribune.com

Former President Barack Obama will speak to young people at the University of Chicago on Monday, returning to the city for what will be his first public event since leaving the White House.

Obama and young leaders will hold a conversation on civic engagement and discuss community organizing at the university’s Logan Center for the Arts, his office announced Friday. Hundreds of people are expected to attend, chosen from area universities that were given tickets for distribution, said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president. About six young people will appear on stage with him for the 11 a.m. discussion, he said.

The event will be a homecoming for Obama on multiple levels. He formerly taught constitutional law at U. of C., and his family has a home nearby in the Kenwood neighborhood. He gave his farewell address in January in the city that launched his political career. And the discussion with students lets the former president, who came to Chicago to work as a young community organizer, fulfill one of the commitments he set out for his post-presidential years: to engage and work with the country’s next generation of leaders, Lewis said.

“This event is part of President Obama’s post-presidency goal to encourage and support the next generation of leaders driven by strengthening communities around the country and the world,” an advisory said. Obama is expected to arrive Sunday, then depart Monday not long after the U. of C. event, the only public appearance planned.Less than a month after his term ended, Obama made a largely under-the-radar visit to Chicago on Feb. 15 to meet with several civic leaders to discuss his future presidential center in Jackson Park.

That visit was announced to the press with few details late that day, and he made no appearances before the general public or television cameras. This time, by contrast, the Obama team’s announcement of Monday’s event ensures it will get a higher profile, particularly because it comes a few days before President Donald Trump is poised to mark his 100th day in office on April 29.

This event is not being sponsored by the Obama Foundation, which leads planning for his eventual center on the South Side.”He’s really excited to go back to Chicago and have a conversation about community organizing and civic engagement,” Lewis said.No tickets remain for distribution to the general public, but the event will be televised. Former first lady Michelle Obama is not expected to accompany her husband on the trip, Lewis said.

To read full article, go to: Barack Obama to hold first public event since leaving office, Monday in Chicago – 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

Danielle Allen Named University Professor at Harvard – Its Highest Faculty Member Honor

Harvard University Professor Danielle Allen (photo via harvardgazette.com)
Harvard University Professor Danielle Allen (photo via harvardgazette.com)

article via jbhe.com

Danielle Allen was appointed the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, effective January 1. This is the highest honor bestowed on a faculty member at Harvard. Currently there are 24 University Professors at Harvard, including Henry Louis Gates Jr. and William Julius Wilson.

In announcing the appointment, Harvard President Drew Faust stated that “Danielle Allen is one of the most distinguished and creative scholars of her generation. Her interests bridge an extraordinary range of fields, her ideas illuminate new avenues of scholarship and education, and her influence extends across the academy and well beyond.”

Dr. Allen joined the faculty at Harvard in 2015. She is a professor of government, professor of education, and the director of the Edmond L. Safra Center for Ethics at the university. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, Dr. Allen was the UPS Foundation Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Earlier, she served on the faculty at the University of Chicago for more than a decade.

Professor Allen is a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton University where she majored in the classics. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in the classics from Cambridge University. In addition, she has a master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University.

Dr. Allen is the author of five books including The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (Princeton University Press, 2000) and Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (Liveright, 2014).

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