Gail Anderson of New York received the Cooper Hewitt Design Award for Lifetime Achievement. | Photo by Declan Van Welie; Paris-based Kapwani Kiwanga won the first Frieze Artist Award in New York. | Photo by Bertille-Chérot

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

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University and Los Angeles County Museum of Art have joined forces to establish the LACMA-ASU Master’s Fellowship in Art History, which combines academic training and real-world work experience. The three-year program is designed to “advance the careers of a new generation of curators, directors and other museum professionals who are committed to disrupting and diversifying the field.”

The Pulitzer Prize board and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are investigating sexual misconducted charges against author Junot Diaz. A professor at MIT, who won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” Diaz said he will step down as chair of the Pulitzer board during the inquiry. The author was just elevated to the leadership role last month. Eugene Robinson, the immediate past chairman, will assume the helm on an interim basis.

A mural depicting black women picking cotton has hung in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago since it opened in 1930. Timothy Kincaide, 32, who has worked in the building for about eight months and walks by the mural everyday, started a petition to have the art removed. “I see oppression, I see pain, you know, I see my people bent over bleeding at the fingers picking up cotton,” he told the Chicago Tribune.

New figures about children’s books by and about people of color have been released. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, 31 percent of children’s books published in 2017 were diverse in terms of subject matter, up from 28 percent in 2016. However, the number of diverse children’s books authored by people of color has not kept pace, standing at only 7 percent in 2017 (and 6 percent in 2016).

More than 100 UK artists including John Akomfrah, Hurvin Anderson, Lubaina Himid, Isaac Julien, and Yinka Shonibare are taking a stand against a policy that would eliminate the arts for secondary school students earning the new English baccalaureate. The group has signed a letter stating its objects.

“There is compelling evidence that the study of creative subjects is in decline in state schools and that entries to arts and creative subjects have fallen to their lowest level in a decade. Young people are being deprived of opportunities for personal development in the fields of self-expression, sociability, imagination and creativity.” — Letter from UK artists

ACQUISITION | The Brooklyn Museum purchased Ed Clark’s “Untitled,” 1978-80 (acrylic on canvas), at Frieze New York. | Courtesy the artist and Weiss Berlin. Photo by Studio Lepkowski via Frieze


The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s 2018 National Design Award Winners were announced and Gail Anderson was recognized for Lifetime Achievement. Anderson is creative director at Visual Arts Press, the in-house design studio for the School of Visual Arts in New York where she has taught design for more than 25 years. She is also a partner at Anderson Newton Design. Anderson has served as senior art director at Rolling Stone magazine and authored 14 books on design. In addition, her many projects include books, theater posters, and the Emancipation Proclamation stamp for the U.S. Postal Service.

Jessica Vaughn and Terence Nance won Artadia’s New York awards, along with $10,000 each in unrestricted grants. Vaughn’s multidisciplinary practice considers “questions about public space and the world of work with intense focus and economy.” Nance is an artist, filmmaker and musician. The finalists included Heather Hart and Christie Neptune. Lorna Simpson was among the judges of the awards.

The Black Art Futures Fund announced its inaugural round of grants. The collective of emerging philanthropists awarded $15,000 among four groups “working to enhance the future of Black arts & culture”—the Center for Afrofuturist Studies in Iowa City, Iowa; I, Too Arts Collective in New York; Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance in Brooklyn; and The Watering Hole in Columbia, S.C.

Artist and Emeritus Professor Barkley L. Hendricks (1945-2017) received the inaugural President’s Award for Creative Impact from Connecticut College. The newly established award recognizes “a record of significant innovation, achievement and influence.”

The Society of Architectural Historians announced the 2018 recipients of the SAH Publication Awards at its annual conference in Saint Paul, Minn. “Cultural Landscape Heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa” edited by John Beardsley won the Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Book Award which recognizes “the most distinguished work of scholarship in the history of landscape architecture or garden design.”

Recipients of the Association of Art Museum Curators 2018 Awards for Excellence were announced. Among those recognized were curators at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art for “Visionary: Viewpoints on Africa’s Arts” (exhibition award); E. Carmen Ramos, deputy chief curator and curator of Latino Art, for the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s “Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography” (exhibition); and Anne Monahan, an independent scholar and curator, for “’Working My Thought More Perfectly’: Horace Pippin’s The Lady of the Lake,” published in the Metropolitan Museum Journal (article/essay).

The National Endowment for the Arts released its list of second round funding for FY 2018, awarding 1,071 grants totaling $81.76 million. The many recipients include the Art21; Laxart; Studio Museum in Harlem; Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling; Carnegie Museum of Art for the Carnegie International; Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio for “I, Too, Sing America: The Harlem Renaissance at 100”; Portland Museum of Art for “Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal…” exhibition/catalog; Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center/High Museum of Art for “Putting Something Over Something Else: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series” exhibition/catalog; Georgia Museum of Art for “Richard Hunt: Synthesis” exhibition/catalog; and the Baltimore Museum of Art, to support “Mark Bradford: Tomorrow is Another Day” exhibition/catalog.


UNVEILINGS/PROJECTS | This year’s New York edition of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in Brooklyn featured several special projects. Artists Azikiwe Mohammed, Nate Lewis, Phoebe Boswell, and Ralph Zimam highlight their work. | Video by 1-54 Art Fair


UNVEILINGS/PROJECTS | The recipient of the first Frieze Artist Award in New York, Kapwani Kiwanga was commissioned to present a special installation at the art fair. | Video by Frieze New York


As the recipient of the inaugural Frieze Artist Award in New York, Kapwani Kiwanga was commissioned to present a special project at the art fair. Curated by Adrienne Edwards, the Paris-based artist’s open-air installation explored freedom of movement and architectures of exclusion.

Nearly 90 years after she finished writing it, Zora Neale Hurston‘s first book has finally been published. The 117-page manuscript titled “Barracoon,” recounts the story of Cudjo Lewis, “an Alabama man who was believed to be the last living person captured in Africa and brought to America on a slave ship.” When Hurston first wrote the book, publishers weren’t keen on her use of dialect and she rebuffed requests to alter the language. Amistad, a HarperCollins’s imprint released the book May 8.

Theaster Gates is organizing a historic exhibition that will showcase archive materials from the Johnson Publishing Company archive. “A Johnson Publishing Story” at the Stony Island Arts Bank “will examine the role of the JPC in defining and disseminating a black aesthetic and culture to national and international audiences in the mid-20th century.” Part of Art Design Chicago, the exhibition opens June 28.


Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Rafa Esparza have been appointed to the Hammer Museum’s Artist Council. The group of prominent, Los Angeles-based artists meets regularly museum curators and leadership. “The Artist Council is a crucial guiding voice within the Hammer Museum,” said director Ann Philbin. “We rely on the Artist Council to challenge and enhance the Hammer’s standing as an intellectual and cultural laboratory of ideas.”

Artist Lorna Simpson is among six new members elected to the Dia Art Foundation’s board of trustees. Dia’s director Jessica Morgan said, “We are thrilled to be adding a diversity of leading voices in the fields of art, philanthropy, and business to our Board. ”


ACQUISITION | Kehinde Wiley’s “Ship of Fools,” 2017 (oil on canvas), has entered the collection of the Royal Museums Greenwich in London. | via Stephen Friedman Gallery


Royal Museums Greenwich has acquired “Ship of Fools” (2017), the first work by Kehinde Wiley to enter a public collection in the United Kingdom. The painting was featured in “In Search of the Miraculous” a recent exhibition of new maritime painting by Wiley presented at Stephen Friedman Gallery in London.

The Brooklyn Museum acquired “Untitled” (1978-80), a large-scale abstract painting by Ed Clark on May 3. Purchased from at Weiss Berlin Gallery which was presenting a solo exhibition of Clark’s work at Frieze New York, the acquisition was made possible by a $100,000 contribution from LIFEWTR. The Clark painting will appear in “Soul of A Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” opening at the museum in September. Ashley James, assistant curator of Contemporary Art, was on the panel of Brooklyn Museum curators that selected the work.

“Portrait of My Grandmother (Emily Motley)” by Archibald Motley (1891-1981) was purchased by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The 1922 painting had been on loan from the artist’s family since 2016.

Beyonce Knowles-Carter has donated a diamond-edged butterfly ring to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. A gift from Jay-Z, the substantially sized ring was created in 2014 by G (Glenn Spiro) of London. The innovative design features fluttering titanium wings encrusted with vivid green tsavorites surrounded by diamonds.


Glenn Spiro discusses the design of the diamond and jewel encrusted butterfly ring Beyonce gifted to the V&A Museum in London. | Video by V&A Museum


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