RETROSPECTIVE is a review of the latest news and happenings related to art by and about people of African descent. This week, highlights include the long-awaited opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; the announcement of the MacArthur Foundation’s 2016 fellows, including Kellie Jones and Joyce J. Scott; a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts; and solo exhibitions featuring Julie Mehretu and Willie Cole.


President Obama headlined the dedication ceremony and grand opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. | Courtesy Getty Images



A century in the making, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has finally arrived. With the ringing of a historic church bell from Virginia, President Barack Obama officially marked the grand opening Sept. 24.

The Smithsonian announced a $20 million gift from Robert F. Smith to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Based in New York, Smith is chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, and also serves as chairman of Carnegie Hall and chairman of Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights.

A new National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) report on trends and conditions affecting U.S. artists found the population is diversifying, the definition of who is an artist is broadening, technology is influencing artists’ work, economic inequality and debt levels are increasing, and training and funding systems are not evolving with changing practices.

Rose G. Salseda, a Ph.D. candidate in art history at the University of Texas at Austin, authored a study that enumerates the dearth of Latino art scholarship presented at the annual College Art Association conference.

At the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, an exhibition of works by Kelley Walker, a white, Georgia-born artist, sparked a boycott over his use of racially and sexually charged images of black people.


From top, Nicole Smythe-Johnson (via her website) and Aria Dean (Photo by Emmanuel Olunkwa via Rhizome).



Nicole Smythe-Johnson, a Kingston, Jamaica-based independent writer and curator was selected for the first Tilting Axis fellowship, a yearlong program that supports Caribbean arts organizations.

Los Angeles-based writer and artist Aria Dean has been appointed assistant curator of net art at Rhizome, an digital art nonprofit in New York.



The MacArthur Foundation announced its 2016 “genius” fellows, including art historian and curator Kellie Jones and Baltimore bead artist Joyce J. Scott.

David Adjaye received the 2016 Panerai London Design Medal, a highly regarded honor awarded annually at the London Design Festival.


willie-cole-with-a-heart-of-gold-2005-06EXHIBITIONS & TALKS

In commemoration of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Theaster Gates—along with the Black Monks of Mississippi and three students on Howard University’s track team—staged a performance at the neraby Smithsonian Hirrshhorn Museum.

Exploring the intersection of art and politics, “Creative Time Summit DC: Occupy the Future” announced confirmed speakers, including Sheila Pree Bright, E. Ethelbert Miller, Sheldon Scott, Hank Willis Thomas & Eric Gottesman, and Carrie Mae Weems, participating in the Oct. 14-16 symposium.

Thelma Golden of the Studio Museum in Harlem was among four female museum directors gathered at the New School in New York to discuss solutions to gender inequality in art-world leadership.

This week new exhibition openings included “Julie Mehretu: Hoodnyx, Voodoo, and Stelae” at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York; “30 Americans” at the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington State; and “Willie Cole: On Site” at The David Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Art and Culture of African American and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park.


ABOVE, WILLIE COLE, “With a Heart of Gold,” 2005-06 (shoes, wood, screws, metal, and staples). | Photo by Jason Mandella; Image courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York




After a critically acclaimed run at MCA Chicago, “Mastry,” Kerry James Marshall‘s 35-year retrospective, is headed to the Met Breuer in New York. In anticipation, the artist’s work was featured on the cover the New York Times Arts & Leisure fall preview section (above) and the September/October 2016 edition of Flash Art.



In Artforum, artist Kerry James Marshall offered a critically thorough, mixed review of Marvel’s new Black Panther series by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

“Kindred spirits” David Adjaye and Theaster Gates spoke to Art Newspaper about working in Washington, D.C., in advance of a much-anticipated conversation at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum.

LISTEN: Elizabeth Alexander, poet, director of Creative Expression at the Ford Foundation, Columbia University professor, and author of “Light of the World” discussed her work at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

LISTEN: Gee Wesley, an artist, ICA Philadelphia fellow, and pop-up bookstore proprietor, talked about the intersection of his art practice and books with Artblog. CT


Do you enjoy and value Culture Type? Please consider supporting its ongoing production by making a donation. Culture Type is an independent editorial project that requires countless hours and expense to research, report, write, and produce. To help sustain it, make a one-time donation or sign up for a recurring monthly contribution. It only takes a minute. Many Thanks for Your Support.