RETROSPECTIVE is a review of the latest news and happenings related to art by and about people of African descent. This week, highlights include news that black women artists gathered in New York in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Also motivated by the movement, a group of black creative directors launched an initiative about race within and beyond the advertising industry. The Houston Museum of African American Culture named a new CEO. Exhibitions opened featuring Carl Van Vechten’s images of Harlem Renaissance figures, works by Fred Wilson, and reflections on the American South in contemporary art. Also, Smithsonian magazine published a special issue dedicated to the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture later this month.


Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter gathered at the New Museum in New York Sept. 1. | via @shanijamila



A procession of female artists in red flowed into the New Museum in New York and gathered in the lobby chanting “End the war on black people,” followed by “It’s time.” The ceremonial call and response opened a special event organized by Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter, an evening of healing activities including workshops, displays and performances that complemented the museum’s current exhibition, Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room.” Frank Roberts, who teaches a course titled Black Lives Matter: Race, Resistance and Populist Protest at New York University, told the New York Times: “The creative energy of artists is very much alive in the movement. Saturday Morning FoundersAnybody who has ever been to a protest rally knows that activism is a theatrical event. It takes choreography and staging.” VIEW MORE images and videos on Instagram

In an industry where representation is low, four black creative directors (Keith Cartwright Geoff Edwards, Jimmy Smith, and Jayanta Jenkins, clockwise from top left) have stepped up a formed a new initiative, called Saturday Morning. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement, the goal is to encourage candid conversations about being black in America and about race within the advertising profession.

Prince‘s sister, Tyka Nelson, announced Paisley Park, the late musician’s home and studio in Chanhassen, Minn., would be made into a museum and open for public tours beginning in the fall.

The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University acquired a 1970 “drape” painting by Sam Gilliam. The work was a gift from the estate of Dawn Clark Netsch.

At Blum & Poe Gallery in Los Angeles, Kanye West debuted the silicone sculpture featured in his “Famous” video. The life-like installation is composed of 12 celebrity figures—including West, his wife Kim Kardashian West, Taylor Swift, Amber Rose, Ray J, George W. Bush, and Anna Wintour—lying in bed next to one another.



The Houston Museum of African American Culture named a new CEO, Kheli R. Willetts (at right), an arts educator and administrator from Syracuse University.

Jayanta Jenkins joined Twitter as its first in-house global group creative director. Jenkins is a co-founder of Saturday Mornings, a new effort by creatives in the advertising industry to start a conversation about race.

The School of Art & Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago announced new faculty appointments, including Cauleen Smith and Nate Young.


Featured in “Southern Accent” at Nasher Museum: DEBORAH GRANT, “In the Land of the Blind the Blue Eye Man is King,” from the series By the Skin of Our Teeth, 2007 (oil, archival ink, paper, Flashe paint, and enamel on five birch panels). | Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. © Deborah Grant, Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion, Courtesy Nasher Museum



This week, several new exhibitions opened including “Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art,” featuring more than 60 artists at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, N.C. (Sept. 1, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017); “Harlem Heroes: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten” at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art in Washington, D.C. (Aug. 26, 2016–March 19, 2017); “Framing Beauty: Intimate Visions,” curated by Deborah Willis at Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University, Bloomington; and two exhibitions presenting the work of Fred Wilson, “Black to the Powers of Ten” and “Wild Fire Test Pit,” at Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College (Aug. 30, 2016—June 12, 2017).

The Studio Museum in Harlem has launched inHarlem, four public art installations by artists Kevin Beasley, Simone Leigh, Kori Newkirk, and Rudy Shepherd, on view in uptown parks through July 25, 2017. The series is curated by Amanda Hunt in collaboration with New York City Parks and the Marcus Garvey Alliance.

smithsonian mag - sept 2016Chicago-based Theaster Gates began a trio of talks today hosted by Emory University. The first panel discussion was about “A Race of Artists: Examining Art and Social Activism.” The next two public events in the Atlanta area will consider “Are Artists Activists?” (Sept. 9) and “Social Practice and Social Justice” (Sept. 22).

Gallery MOMO announced a new artist in residence, Cameroon artist Joel Mpah Dooh, who is creating work for an October exhibition at the Johannesburg gallery.



The September issue of Smithsonian magazine is dedicated to the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24. Headlined “Black in America,” the magazine describes the opening as a “defining moment,” and features four different covers by artists Lorna Simpson and Amy Sherald, and photographers xST/Shawn Theodore and Delphine Diallo (whose image includes makeup by Laolu Senbenjo).

To mark its 25th anniversary, Frieze, the British contemporary art magazine, published three covers by three artists including Chris Ofili.


Bayeté_Kalia_Keith - Our Kind of People
“Our Kind of People” – Bayete, Keith, Kalie. | Courtesy Bayeté Ross Smith



Through photography, artist Bayeté Ross Smith has explored issues of identity and perception. Currently embedded, with the Race/Related team at the New York Times, he has launched a new project (#HereIsMyAmerica) to challenge and dispel preconceived and stereotypical notions about individuals and their communities, and promote a more nuanced and expansive portrait of people of color, in particular.

George Clinton announced he is releasing a new album next year with Brainfeeder on KCRW radio in Los Angeles, an NPR affiliate. The Parliament/Funkadelic legend is appearing at the Hollywood Bowl for Brainfeeder Night on Sept. 11, along with Flying Lotus, Thunder Cat, and more. WATCH or LISTEN to the episode which features a live performance in the studio.

Chicago-based Kartemquin Films is marking 50 years of seeking to strengthen democracy through documentary filmmaking by showcasing its many projects over the years in a series of screenings. In addition, throughout 2016 it is making one film a week available online. This week’s free film captures choreographer Bill T. Jones as he creates his most ambitious work, “A Good Man,” about Abraham Lincoln.

NPR reported on the legacy of artist Noah Davis, the founder of the Underground Museum in Los Angeles, who died a year ago of cancer. CT


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