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 Elizabeth Catlett‘s alma mater is attempting make amends for a decades-old discriminatory housing policy. David Adjaye and Chris Ofili may be lighting London’s historic bridges. Steve McQueen won the Johannes Vermeer Award. The Smithsonian’s African American museum continued to announce details about its Sept. 24 opening. Plus, fall exhibitions opened around the country, including solo shows for Lorna Simpson, Rashid Johnson, and Leonardo Drew in New York, and Betye Saar, Henry Taylor, and Rodney McMillan in Los Angeles.

LEONARDO DREW, “Number 181,” 2016 (wood, paint, screws, nails), now on view at Sikkema Jenkins in New York. | via Sikkema Jenkins



catlett-mfaThe University of Iowa announced it will name a residence hall after Elizabeth Catlett (at right). The late artist earned an MFA from the school in 1940, but was not allowed to live in university housing because she was black. Catlett was the first African American woman to receive an MFA at UI and among the first three students to do so at the school.

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs announced a $1 million internship initiative, a paid program aimed at improving racial/ethnic diversity in the city’s cultural institutions.

When the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture debuts, First Lady Michelle Obama will join President Obama at the long-awaited opening celebration, the museum officially announced. The President will deliver remarks and be joined by former President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush; U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts; and Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.).

The headliners were announced for “Freedom Sounds: A Community Celebration,” the three-day music festival celebrating the opening of the museum. The list includes Living Colour, Public Enemy, The Roots, Experience Unlimited (EU), and Meshell Ndegeocello.

Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor has died. The actor and self-proclaimed “culinary griot” who celebrated celebrated Gullah food and culture on NPR for three decades was 79.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Iowa Women’s Archives, Shirley Briggs Papers via University of Iowa



Jorge Daniel Veneciano has been named director of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. A curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 1994 to 1999, Veneciano announced on Aug. 12 he was leaving his post as executive director of El Museo del Barrio.

The School of Visual Arts in New York hired 16 artists and curators to join its faculty, including Stephanie Cunningham, Mark Thomas Gibson, Genevieve Hyacinthe, Kalup Linzy, Jodie Lyn-Kee Chow, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Accra Shepp.


Johannes Vermeer Award Steve McQueen at the Whitney Museum of American Art, April 29, 2016. | Photo by Filip Wolak, Whitney Museum



With a team that includes artists Chris Ofili and Doug Aitken, architect David Adjaye‘s firm made the shortlist to design lighting schemes to transform London’s historic bridges.

Artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen has been awarded the Johannes Vermeer Award, the Dutch annual state prize for the arts.

Artists Yinka Shonibare and Ato Malinda, along with philanthropist and Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, will be honored at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art’s inaugural African Art Awards Dinner on Oct. 28.

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History announced its inaugural Great Americans award would be bestowed upon two former secretaries of state—Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright.

Nominees for the 2017 Absolut Art Awards were announced. The artists include Dineo Seshee Bopape (South Africa), Serge Attukwei Clottey (Ghana), Yaw Brobbey Kyei (Ghana), Ibrahim Mahama (Ghana), Otobong Nkanga (Nigeria), Elisabeth Sutherland (Ghana), Martine Syms (USA) and Huey Copeland (USA) is among the writers nominated. The 10 nominators included Thelma Golden and Nan Oforiatta-Ayim.

Lightwork announced its 2017 artists in residence, including John Edmonds, who will spend a month in Syracuse focusing on creative projects.

Conde Nast released its Daring 25 list of the “Most Intrepid People, Companies, and Innovations of 2016,” including Theaster Gates who was recognized in the Design category as a humanitarian entrepreneur.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced three new artists in residence for fall 2016, including writer artist and curator D. Scot Miller.



In New York City, galleries debuted their fall exhibitions, most notably, Lorna Simpson at Salon 94, Rashid Johnson at Hauser & Wirth, Leonardo Drew and Jennie C. Jones at Sikkema Jenkins, and Meleko Mokgosi at Jack Shainman.

Fall exhibition openings in Los Angeles included Betye Saar at Roberts & Tilton, Rodney McMillan at Susanne Vielmetter, and Henry Taylor at Blum & Poe, where the artist is presenting new paintings, sculptures, and a film Khalil Joseph.

ART21 announced special public programs in Chicago and Vancouver to coincide with the Sept. 16 and Sept. 23 airings of its Season 8 episodes on PBS profiling artists including Nick Cave, Theaster Gates and Stan Douglas.

Culture Lab Detroit announced 2016 programming including a discussion series (Sept. 15 & 16) featuring curator Franklin Sirmans and artist Adam Pendleton, among others, and a public art installation by Gary Simmons.


Clockwise from left, Rashid Johnson, David Adjaye on Icon magazine, and an Afrocentric flag.



Rashid Johnson, whose new exhibition “Fly Away” just opened at Hauser & Wirth in New York, is featured on the October cover of Cultured magazine, which was photographed by Hank Willis Thomas.

Featuring reviews of Jesmyn Ward‘s “The Fire This Time” and “We Gon’ Be Alright” edited by Jeff Chang, two essay collectiosns about race in America, the latest issue of Book Forum is covered by an illustration of a tattered red, black and green flag on the cover that resembles David Hammons‘s “African-American Flag.”

Architect David Adjaye covers the October issue of ICON, a UK-based architecture and design magazine.



Wesley Morris, a New York Times critic at-large, and Jenna Wortham, a writer for the Times magazine, have launched “Still Processing,” a new podcast featuring conversations between the two about culture.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA LA) facilitated a phone call between artists Lorraine O’Grady, who is in her early 80s, and Juliana Huxtable, 28, speaking to one another for the first time. (This transcript is part one of the conversation. The second is forthcoming.)

A century in the making, the New York Times reported on the path of the Smithsonian’s newest museum: “How the fight for African American museum was won.”

The Atlantic published a conversation with author N.K. Jemisin, the recent Hugo Award-winner, about science fiction, race, gender, power, and Trumpism. CT


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