PROJECTS/UNVEILINGS | Solange Ferguson, “Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube),” 2018, at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

The following review of the past week presents a snapshot of the latest news in African American art and related culture:

Jerome Meadows, a Savannah, Ga.-based artist has been commissioned to create a memorial to Ed Johnson, who was lynched in 1906 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The public sculpture will be installed at the Walnut Street Bridge, the site of the brutal killing which is in the heart of the city’s tourist district.

Princeton University has been reckoning with its historic ties to slavery, launching a project to research and document the findings. In the wake of the acknowledgement, Princeton is dedicating two campus spaces in honor of Betsey Stockton and James Collins “Jimmy” Johnson—two formerly enslaved persons with connections to the university.

Panic! 2018 a new report published by university sociologists documents a significant race and class divide in the creative industries in the UK. Findings include the following: “Women, people from working-class backgrounds, and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers all face significant exclusions from an industry which is over-represented by upper middle-class white men. Just 2.7% of workers in museums, galleries and libraries are of BAME backgrounds (compared to nearly 10% of the UK workforce overall) while just 12.6% of workers in publishing are of working-class origins (compared to 35% of the workforce overall).” Read full report

In order to diversify its audiences and groom and appeal to the next generation of museum goers, the Tate in London is seeking a trustee under the age of 25 to bring a youthful lens to the institution’s decision making.

Photography by LaToya Ruby Frazier illustrates a special report on maternal health and infant viability. The New York Times article by Linda Villarosa reveals a crisis situation: “Black mothers and infants are dying at a higher rate than white mothers and infants, in large part because of societal racism and racial bias in the healthcare system.”


NEWS | Simone Landrum during a prenatal visit from her doula. | LaToya Ruby Frazier for The New York Times via the Times


The American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced 213 new members elected in 25 categories. The class of 2018 includes President Barack Obama, Thelma Golden, David Driskell, and Richard Powell, among many others. Founded in 1780, the American Academy champions, scholarship, knowledge sharing, and civil discourse and regularly convenes leaders from a variety of disciplines to address critical challenges facing the nation and world.

The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., has hired its first chief diversity officer. Makeba Clay will lead the museum’s “inclusion strategy” with a focus on diversification throughout the institution, including staff hiring, board appointments, and exhibitions, programs, and partnerships.

The Apollo Theater in Harlem named Aldo Scrofani chief operating officer. Scrofani who has a live entertainment background, will take charge of the historic theater’s operations. Read more about the Apollo’s leadership team


AWARDS/HONORS | Helen Cammock won the Max Mara Art Prize for Women. Her work has recently been featured in the Serpentine Cinema Series and Tate Artists Moving Image Screening Programme. | Courtesy White Chapel Gallery, London


London-based Helen Cammock won the Max Mara Art Prize for Women. The biannual prize supports UK-based artists and includes a six-month residency in Italy to create a new body of work which will be presented in a 2019 solo exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery in London that will travel to Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy. A multidisciplinary artist, Cammock “works across moving image, photography, writing, poetry, spoken word, song, performance, printmaking and installation. She is interested in histories, storytelling and the excavation, re-interpretation and re-presentation of lost, unheard and buried voices.”

Kehinde Wiley, who painted President Barack Obama’s official portrait for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, made the Time 100 list for 2018.

The Obama Foundation announced its 2018 fellows. The inaugural class of 20 was selected from 20,000 applicants from 191 countries. Based in Los Angeles, Chicago, Mali, Haiti, and beyond, the fellows are working on education and criminal justice issues, and harnessing technology to improve lives and communities, among many other critical initiatives. See list of fellows

Paul Stephen Benjamin was awarded the Southern Prize by South Art, a nonprofit regional arts organization. An Atlanta-based multidisciplinary artist, Benjamin’s “installations are a meditation on the color black as an entry point into discussions of identity, race and masculinity and the exploration of the complexities of racial identity.” The prize includes a $25,000 cash award and two-week residency at The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences in Rabun Gap, Ga.


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PROJECTS/UNVEILINGS | Watch an excerpt from “Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube),” Solange’s new performance work at the Hammer Museum.


Singer/songwriter and artist Solange Ferguson debuted “Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube)” at the Hammer Museum April 13 and discussed the performance work with curator Erin Christovale. Created and directed by Solange and choreographed by Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly, the work involved about 50 dancers interacting with a large, white minimalist open-cube structure sited on a green expanse. Combining sculpture and performance, the work explores the artist’s interest in the relationship between movement and architecture. This summer, “Metatronia” will travel to as-yet-named locations throughout the country.

“The piece is an exercise on following the intuitive force that guides us, helping us to create space, and silence the mind to create the work. Continuing my practices and interest in exploring the relationship of movement and architecture as a meditation, Metatronia centers around building frequency and creating charge through visual storytelling.”

Part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the Hayward Gallery Billboard features “Dwell: Aso Ebi” (2017) by Los Angeles-based artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby. The work is reproduced as a digital print on vinyl. The billboard is installed on the side of London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, which faces the gallery, and will be on view through February 2019.

Seven artists including Nina Chanel Abney have formed the Peanuts Global Artist Collective. Fans of the beloved Charles M. Schulz comic strip, the artists are bringing the series and its characters to life through public art installations in New York City, San Francisco, Mexico City, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, and Seoul.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration open April 26 in Montgomery, Ala. Established by the Equal Justice Initiative and built on the site of a former slave warehouse, the complementary institutions are “dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.” The project, which has been promoted as a lynching memorial, emphasizes the through line from slavery to current discrimination and racial bias. Watch Oprah Winfrey’s 60 Minutes segment on the lynching memorial

“We want people to come through our museum and walk out with an opportunity to do something. We hope they’ll be prepared to say something that sounds like never again should we tolerate racial bias and injustice and bias in our country.” — Bryan Stevenson

The Equal Justice Initiative’s lynching memorial and legacy museum, documenting slavery to mass incarceration, open April 26 in Montgomery, Ala. | Video by Equal Justice Initiative


The 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair returns to New York May 4-6 at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. This year’s edition features more than 60 artists and 21 galleries, including five U.S.-based (read New York City) galleries—Aicon Gallery, Burning in the Water Gallery, James Cohan Gallery, Sapar Contemporary, and Yossi Milo Gallery. Work by internationally recognized figures such as Omar Victor Diop, Ibrahim El-Salahi, and Yinka Shonibare, will be presenting along with a wide range of emerging artists. The fair will include a series of special projects and Forum Talks curated by Omar Berrada.

The artist list for Open Spaces 2018 in Kansas City, Mo., has been released. The citywide celebration of contemporary visual and performance art will feature 42 artists, both emerging and renowned figures with local, national, and international profiles, including Alexandre Arrechea, Sanford Biggers, Nick Cave, Nikita Gale, Rashawn Griffin, Ebony G. Patterson, Joyce J. Scott, Sike Style Industries, Shinique Smith, and Nari Ward. Open Spaces is Aug. 25-Oct. 28.


Bloomberg reported the Museum of Modern Art recently brought four works by black artists into its collection. The new acquisitions include “Holy Virgin Mary” (1996) by Chris Ofili, a gift from billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen that set an artist record at auction for the British artist, and “Sweet Thang (Lynn Jenkins)” (1970) by Barkley L. Hendricks, a gift from Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis in honor of Jerry Speyer. The other works are by Haitian artist Herve Telemaque and multidisciplinary artist Maren Hassinger.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has acquired The Jazz and Blues ArtBox, a gift from George Wien, the jazz producer, promoter and pianist, who founded the Newport Jazz Festival. The limited edition collection provides “researchers and jazz lovers unparalleled access into one of the most comprehensive visual records documenting the jazz era,” through two decades of live performances and nearly 100 interviews with jazz and blues artists, among many other assets.


PROJECTS/UNVEILINGS | Nina Chanel Abney is one of seven artist participating in a global effort to pay tribute to Peanuts in public spaces. | via Peanuts Global Artist Collective


The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s biannual Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition will be underway soon. The call for entries opens May 28, 2018. Amy Sherald won the 2016 competition—she was the first woman and first African American to take the top prize—and went on to paint First Lady Michelle Obama’s official portrait for the museum.

Getty Images is partnering with Ava DuVernay‘s ARRAY Alliance to support the work of women and people of color through a new grant program open to photographers and filmmakers. Four grants of $5,000 each will be awarded. Application deadline is Friday, June 8, 2018.

Organized by the National Portrait Gallery in the UK, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 is accepting entries. First prize is £15,000 British pounds (about $21,000). Open to anyone 18 and over, the international competition promotes “the very best in contemporary portrait photography.” The deadline is June 28, 2018.

Applications are now open for the 2018 Arts Writers Grants sponsored by Creative Capital and The Andy Warhol Foundation. (Culture Type received an Arts Writers Grant in 2015.) The deadline for the current cycle is May 21, 2018. CT


PROJECTS/UNVEILINGS | Njideka Akunyili Crosby billboard installed on Queen Elizabeth Hall opposite Hayward Gallery on London’s South Bank. | via Victoria Miro Instagram


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