NEWS | Seven members have resigned from the DuSable Museum of African American History board of trustees in Chicago. The departures include the chair and two vice chairs.

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

Seven trustees, including Chance the Rapper and his father Ken Bennett, have resigned from board of the DuSable Museum of African American History, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Board chair Joyce Johnson-Miller, and vice chairs Kimberly McCullough-Starks and Eric Whitaker, are also among those who have stepped down. The resignations represent one-third of the 21-member board. Artist Theaster Gates and former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, are among those who remain. The names of the departing members were still listed on the Chicago’s museum’s website on Sunday May 27, the day after the resignations were reported publicly. The President and CEO Perri Irmer and museum spokesman Raymond Ward provided a statement to the Chicago Tribune thanking all of the trustees, current and recently departed, for their dedication and service. They added: “We will take this opportunity to continue to build our board, a process that’s already underway, and we’re excited about the changes to come.” The statement didn’t address the reason for the resignations.



In Harlem, a prominently displayed mural paying tribute African American cultural figures has been restored. “The Spirit of Harlem,” a colorful mosaic work by Louis Delsarte was commissioned by North Fork Bank in 2005 and installed at the corner of 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard on the exterior wall of the bank. Last November, the new occupant, Footaction, which is owned by Foot Locker, took over the space and put up a black brick facade covering the mural. After vociferous objections from the neighborhood, the company relented and agreed to restore the mural. It was unveiled this month with a new plaque dedicating it to the Harlem community.

The D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education accused eight families of residency fraud for enrolling their children in Duke Ellington School of the Arts, without paying the tuition required for students who live outside the District of Columbia. Ellington, the prestigious public arts school co-founded by the late philanthropist and art collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz, is free to District residents.

On May 23, the Chicago City Council voted 47-1 to green light construction of the Obama Presidential Center at Jackson Park on the city’s South Side. The approval means the Obama Foundation can proceed with federal reviews of the project “with city support as a badge of endorsement.” The center, which will include a library and museum, has received incredible praise and some protest in the city, with pushback coming from groups who oppose its location, a park site on the National Register of Historic Places.


LIVES | Sam Nzima’s 1976 photograph of student activist Hector Pieterson, who was shot by police in Soweto, showed the world the brutality of South Africa’s apartheid regime. | Photo via AP


South African photographer Sam Nzima died May 12. He was 83. A single photograph he took of a dying 13-year-old student activist more than 40 years ago turned the world’s attention to the brutal violence that accompanied apartheid rule. On June 16, 1976, police opened fire on young anti-apartheid protestors during an uprising in Soweto. Hector Pieterson was shot and Nzima photographed him lying in the arms of a fellow student, distraught as he carried him away with the victim’s sister at his side. The image was among Time magazine’s 100 most influential images of all time. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered flags flown at half mast on May 26, the day of Nzima’s funeral, and he was eulogized by Deputy President David Mabuza.


APPOINTMENTS | For the first time, two curators have been appointed to direct Prospect New Orleans. From left, Diana Nawi and Naima Keith will co-organize Prospect.5, which opens in fall 2020. | Photo by HRDWRKER, Courtesy Prospect New Orleans


The vision for the next iteration of Prospect New Orleans will be a team effort. The triennial’s executive director Nick Stillman and the board of trustees announced that Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi will co-curate Prospect.5, which opens in fall 2020. Since 2016, Keith has served as deputy director and chief curator of the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles, where she has raised the calibre of the exhibitions, transformed the institution’s programming, and introduced a new visual identity. Independent curator Diana Nawi was an associate curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami for five years. She has organized many exhibitions, among them solo shows featuring John Dunkley, Nari Ward, John Akomfrah, and also Adler Guerrier at CAAM. Keith and Nawi are both based in Los Angeles and have previously collaborated.

Mary Margaret Pettway, a third-generation quilter from Gee’s Bend, Ala., was appointed chair of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Based in Atlanta, the foundation is dedicated to preserving, promoting, and exhibiting the work of African American artists from the South, and more recently has been focused on increasing the representation of their work in museum collections. A member of the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective, Pettway leads quilting workshops and teaches at the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center in Camden, Ala. She has been a trustee of the foundation since 2017, and will serve as chair from 2018 to 2020.

Sheri Parks is joining the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore as vice president of strategic initiatives. Parks previously served as the inaugural associate dean for research, interdisciplinary scholarship, and programming in the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland, College Park. She starts at MICA June 1.


AWARDS & HONORS | From left, Arthur Jafa won a 2018 Herb Alpert Award; Tiona Nekkia McClodden received the 2018-19 Keith Haring Fellowship at Bard College | Photo by Texas Isaiah; and Stephen Burks is among the 2019 Loeb Fellows at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.


Filmmaker Arthur Jafa and choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili are among the five mid-career artists who won 2018 Herb Alpert Awards. Administered by California Institute of the Arts, the prize provides $75,000 to recipients “at a time when work is often poised to go in exciting or even radical new directions.”

Artist and curator Tiona Nekkia McClodden was awarded the 2018-19 Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism, an annual opportunity for recipients to teach and conduct research at the Center for Curatorial Studies and the Human Rights Project at Bard College.

The Harvard Graduate School of Design announced its 2019 Loeb Fellows, nine exceptional mid-career pros who are shaping the future of the natural and built environment. The fellowship includes a year of independent study at Harvard, unlimited access to the academic resources of Harvard and MIT, along with financial support. Fellows include Jeana Dunlap, head of the Office of Redevelopment Strategies in Louisville, Ky., and Stephen Burks, the industrial designer whose exhibition “Man Made” was on view at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2011.


ACQUISITIONS | Executed on the pages of a book, this work by Purvis Young is among 34 additions to the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Shown, PURVIS YOUNG (American, 1943-2010), “Untitled book page,” 1983 (foundbook with drawings glued to cover and interior, ballpoint pen, marker, paint on paper.). | Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams fund and partial gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Photo by Dan Jurgens © Estate of Purvis Young/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York


The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, Va., acquired 34 works of art from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation through a gift/purchase arrangement. The Atlanta-based foundation is dedicated to collecting, documenting, and promoting art by African American artists from the U.S. South. The VMFA acquisitions include works by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Toliver, Jesse Aaron, James “Son Ford” Thomas and Purvis Young, along with a selection of Gee’s Bend quilts.

Ruby City in San Antonio, Texas, announced seven new acquisitions, including three works by Isaac Julien and “This second Dreamer,” a sculpture by Wangechi Mutu. With more than 50 works in the foundation’s collection, Julien is the most represented artist. The new works are a video installation, “Stones Against Diamonds” (2015), and two photographs from “Looking for Langston,” the artist’s seminal 1989 film. Ruby City, the Linda Pace Foundation’s new contemporary art center, is designed by David Adjaye and is expected to be completed at the end of 2018 and open to the public in 2019.


PROJECTS/UNVEILINGS | British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare is among the artists whose work is featured on British postage stamps paying tribute to the Royal Academy of Arts. | via Royal Mail


The Royal Mail is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts in London with a special series of six postage stamps featuring original commissioned artworks by critically recognized British artists including Tracey Emin CBE, RA; Grayson Perry CBE, RA; and Yinka Shonibare MBE, RA. A photograph from the Royal Academy archives inspired Shonibare’s graphic image, which depicts visitors in the RA courtyard lining up to see an exhibition with their umbrellas aloft. “It’s not something you ever think you’ll do, to be honest. It depends how you measure it, but in a sense it must be the biggest public art commission I’ve ever taken on,” the British-Nigerian artist told The Guardian. The stamps will be available June 5.

Founded by Walter Hood, Hood Design Studio of Oakland, Calif., is among eight finalists under consideration in the DIA Plaza and Midtown Cultural Connections design competition. The Detroit Institute of the Arts and Midtown Detroit Inc., are selecting an integrated design team to develop an urban and landscape design that will connect 12 cultural and educational institutions in midtown Detroit. The finalists are making public presentations in Detroit on June 13-14. To attend, register here.


The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco is giving artists the opportunity to present a two-month solo exhibition at the museum. The Emerging Artists Program encourages individual artists and collectives based in the San Francisco Bay area to submit proposals. MoAD is hosting informational open houses for interested artists on May 30 and June 19. The application deadline is July 1.

Earlier this month, Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean announced on Instagram that he is offering 20 artists $5,000 each to mount an exhibition in a space of their choosing and keep all of the proceeds from their sales. “There are so many amazing artists out there, but it is hard to breakthrough,” he said. “For all my creatives, it’s time to take your career into your own hands.” The initiative is called The Dean Collection 20 St(Art)ups. For consideration, artists must share their vision, submit a business plan, and provide images of their work. The deadline is May 31. CT


UPDATE (05/31/18): I reached out to MoAD to confirm whether the Emerging Artists Program is restricted to California artists. Mark Sabb, the museum’s director of marketing and communications, said “We currently ask that all artists applying to our Emerging Artist program be Bay Area-based.” The information in this post has been updated accordingly.



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