RETROSPECTIVE is a review of the latest news and happenings related to visual art by and about people of African descent, with the occasional nod to cultural matters. This week, highlights include the announcement that the Detroit home of Rosa Parks will be repurposed as art; plans for a new museum in Nigeria and assessments of the Kenyan art market; a historic hiring at George Washington University’s textile museum; and board appointments for architect David Adjaye and artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Plus, new exhibitions opened featuring the work of Sonya Clark, Samella Lewis, and Yinka Shonibare, among others.


Rhea McCauley, the niece of Rosa Parks pictured with a friend in front of the tarp-covered home of the civil rights pioneer. | Courtesy photo via Michigan Live



President Obama issued a proclamation declaring October National Arts and Humanities Month.

The dilapidated Detroit home of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks will be repurposed as an art installation by Berlin-based, American artist Ryan Mendoza.

Amid backlash, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis decided to erect barriers around and post explanatory text at the entrance to a Kelley Walker exhibition in which the white artist presents images described as “racially charged and exploitive.”

The Financial Times reported Kenya is on the cusp of an art market boom and artnet News questioned the accuracy of the claim citing the fact that one artist, Wangechi Mutu, is propping up the market.

Artist and curator Zina Saro-Wiwa has plans for a new museum in her native Nigeria.

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced its first-ever Don Tyson prize had been awarded to the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art, an invaluable archive of documents, images and artist oral histories.



William Louis-Dreyfus, 84, an art collector and father of actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, died in September. The billionaire chair of Louis Dreyfus Energy announced last year he was beginning to sell off his $50 million art collection—which includes works by self-taught artists Bill Traylor, Clementine Hunter, Nellie Mae Rowe, Purvis Young and Thornton Dial, as well as Sam Gilliam and Richard Hunt—to benefit the Harlem Children’s Zone.


Camille Ann Brewer is the new curator of contemporary art at George Washington University textile museum. | via GWU



The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., announced a historic appointment. Camille Ann Brewer has been hired to serve as the museum’s first full-time curator of contemporary art.

Serpentine Gallery in London made several announcements including new leadership and programming. Among them, artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and architect David Adjaye are joining the board, and Adjaye will be part of an advisory group selecting the designer for next year’s Serpentine Pavilion.

Ashley Jordan, a Howard Univeristy Ph.D. candidate studying the migration of African Americans to Ohio, has joined the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati as a curator in the museum experiences department.



The National Book Foundation announced its 2016 5 Under 35 honorees, including authors Brit Bennett (“The Mothers”) and Yaa Gyasi (“Homegoing”). Award-winning authors Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jacqueline Woodson participated in the selections.


SONYA CLARK, Detail of “Writer Type,” 2016 (found typewriter and artist’s hair). | Courtesy Sonya Clark



Several black female artists are opening solo exhibitions today including Sonya Clark at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Va.; Samella Lewis at Stella Jones Gallery in New Orleans; Jaimie Milner at Residency Art in Inglewood, Calif.; and Zanele Muholi at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. SEE MORE fall exhibitions featuring women artists.

Coinciding with the upcoming Frieze week, “Yinka Shonibare MBE: …and the wall fell away” opened in London at Stephen Friedman Gallery.

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University, announced a new exhibition celebrating the arts and letters. “Destined to Be Known: The James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection at 75,” is on view through Dec. 10.

“Still Raising Hell: The Art, Activism, and Archives of Camille Billops and James V. Hatch,” a multi-media African American art exhibition, opened at the Rose Library at Emory University in Atlanta.

Cool Culture, in partnership with the American Alliance of Museums, hosted a panel discussion called “Laboratory for New Audiences,” part of a yearlong program to engage museum professionals to design innovative solutions to reimagining the relationship between diverse communities and museums.


Ebony G. Patterson is featured in the new Barney’s New York The Window catalog.



four-generations-the-joyner-giuffrida-collection-of-abstract-artFeaturing the work of Sam Gilliam on the cover, a new volume, “Four Generations: The Joyner Giuffrida Collection of Abstract Art,” was published documenting the collection established by Pamela Joyner, which spans four generations of artists bridging the 20th and 21st centuries, through hundreds of images and essays contributed by Courtney J. Martin, Mary Schmidt Campbell, and Christopher Bedford, among others.

Among the latest fall designer fashions, the new Barney’s New York The Window store catalog (Issue 4) includes a feature spread (print only) on Jamaican-born artist Ebony G. Patterson. Regarding the representation of women and artists of color in museums, Patterson says, “I feel like my own visibility signals that interests are being widened.” Patterson’s work is currently on view at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art.

4Columns, a new online platform for arts criticism debuted with a review by Aruna D’Souza of the Alma Thomas exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem.



The entire Season 8 of ART21, featuring artists Nick Cave and Theaster Gates in Chicago, Edgar Arceneux in Los Angeles, and Stan Douglas in Vancouver, is now available online.

“The Power of Your Vote,” a special video project created by Carrie Mae Weems, pairs the words of President Obama’s address to the Congressional Black Caucus with images of ordinary Americans walking down the street the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, N.Y. Emphasizing the importance of voting, Obama notes the history of sacrifice, violence and lives lost to gain the right to vote. “If you care about our legacy, realize everything we stand for is at stake. All the progress we’ve made is at stake in this election,” he says. “My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot. Ending mass incarceration, that’s on the ballot right now.” CT


In advance of the 2016 presidential election, a Carrie Mae Weems project stresses the importance of voting and what’s at stake.


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