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In “My Black History: The Case for Black Art in an Anti-Presidential Era”, Maiysha Kai explains the power black art holds in the current political state of the United States.
She explains how, “The Black Arts Movement that followed was a direct response to the loss of our most prominent leaders of the 1960s, as well as our subsequent rejection of the desire to assimilate into any American culture invested in our marginalization. Even hip-hop has origins in the response of black and brown youths to a society that simultaneously disenfranchised and criminalized them en masse, the tenor of which would come to a head in the turbulent rise of “gangsta rap” in the 1990s.”
Kai explains how African American’s are empowered through their art; letting their art speak social change by being an “expression of resistance but also a visible and visceral expression of the human experience.”
With the loss of an African American President, there is widespread “post-black” and “post-racial” which in turn is leading to the “rise of black art in America.”
Read more Breaking News from ABHM here!
To read the full article, check out The Root!
On Wednesday, Sept. 16, students of the University of Buffalo were shocked to find “White Only” and “Black Only” signs hung near campus bathrooms. Students were sickened and traumatized by the apparent act of racism; by 1 p.m., the police had received 11 phone calls regarding the signage.
It was later revealed, however, that the signs reminiscent of the Jim Crow era were put on display by graduate fine arts student Ashley Powell, who is black, as part of an art project.
Before Powell admitted to hanging the signs at a Black Student Union (BSU) meeting on Wednesday night, students and faculty were left wondering about the source of the racist designations. “We didn’t know it was an art project, it could’ve been an act of terrorism,” a student explained to The Spectrum, the independent campus newspaper.
When Powell revealed that she was behind the act, a project for her “Installation: Urban Spaces” class, which requires students to install art in a public space, many students stormed out of the BSU assembly, some in tears. “It brought up feelings of a past that our generation has never seen, which I think is why it was so shocking for us to see,” Micah Oliver, president of the BSU, told ABC.
“As an artist, I respect you as an artist,” said student Jefry Taveras in the BSU meeting. “But you should know racism isn’t art, it’s a reality and traumatizing.”
In a statement to The Spectrum, Powell explained the reasoning behind her installation, which addresses issues of non-white suffering and white privilege. “I apologize for the extreme trauma, fear, and actual hurt and pain these signs brought about,” she wrote. “I apologize if you were hurt, but I do not apologize for what I did.”
She went on to expand upon the motivations behind the project, which was intended to spark outrage and discomfort in viewers.
“My art practice is not an act of self-policing meant to hide my rage. Instead, it uses pain, narrative, and trauma as a medium of expression and as grounds for arguing a need for change in the first place. I understand that I forced people to feel pain that they otherwise would not have had to deal with in this magnitude. But I ask, should non-white people not express or confront their trauma? Should we be content with not having to confront that pain? We know it exists, and it often causes many of us immediate discomfort. Should we not be in a state of crushing discomfort?
These signs made you feel discomfort. They are tangible objects that forced you to revisit your past, to confront your present, and to recognize here and now the underlying social structures that are directly responsible for your pain and suffering. This project makes forceful what has been easy for you to ignore.”
Read Powell’s statement in full here…
Read the full article here.
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Betye Irene Saar was born on this date in 1926. She is an African-American artist and educator, famous for collages that lampoon racist attitudes about blacks and for installations featuring mystical themes.
Born Betye Irene nue Brown in Pasadena, CA, Saar studied design at the University of California at Los Angeles (B. A. 1949) and education and printmaking at California State University at Long Beach. In the early 1960s, she created etchings and intaglio, but after seeing a Joseph Cornell show in 1968, she began to expand her work from two to three dimensions, working in assemblage. She also augmented her mystical and occult themes with challenges to racist myths and stereotypes.
She also reiterated occult themes with explorations of mysticism in the digital age. Saar’s exhibitions included shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1975) and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (1984). She collaborated in shows with two of her daughters and taught at the University of California at Los Angeles and at the Parsons-Otis Institute in Los Angeles.
Read more about Saar here.
When speaking of Newsome as a performer and the role of performance in his work Levai added “[Newsome] is cataloging gestures in a way that we have not seen before. This is evidenced in Shade Compositions, 2009, even further in FIVE, 2010 as well as in The Conductor. This method of documentation is less a statement about the artist’s personal intentions, and instead focuses more on archiving gestures in a community.”
Newsome is masterfully expanding the boundaries of language and gesture and asking his viewers to join him in this exploration. His work requires a deeper analysis of things thought to be understood all too well such as hip-hop, vogue (or voguing), gesture and body language. Newsome confronts and shifts the assumptions associated with each of these cultures and boldly calls for reconsideration, and maybe even slightly, reproach.
Read more about Newsome’s art here.
Sculptor and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett, a U.S. expatriate renowned for her dignified portrayals of African-American and Mexican women and who was barred from her home country for political activism during the McCarthy era, has died. She was 96.
She was known for her commitment to winning greater rights for blacks, women and workers in the United States and her adopted country. Catlett witnessed almost every important artistic and social movement of the 20th century and traveled in some of the same illustrious circles as the great American artist Jacob Lawrence and poet Langston Hughes.
Read more about Catlett here.