For Freedoms launched a nationwide crowd-sourcing campaign to fund artist-designed billboards for display in advance of the 2018 midterm elections in the United States.

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

The Brodsky Center, a collaborative paper and printmaking center, based at Rutgers University, is moving to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). Established in 1986, the center has completed more than 300 editions with a range of artists including Emma Amos, Chakaia Booker, Sonia Boyce, David Driskell, Melvin Edwards, Hew Locke, Nell Painter, Faith Ringgold, Mickalene Thomas, Fred Wilson, and Barkley L. Hendricks, a PAFA alum. The center has focused on supporting women and artists of color, in particular. Sondra Perry is currently an artist-in-residence at the center.

The Obsidian Collection is partnering with Google to make digital, searchable versions of America’s historic black newspapers including the Chicago Defender, Baltimore Afro-American, and others, available for free. Eight features and a selection of images from the Defender archives are already online on the Google Arts & Culture platform.

HOUSING, a black-owned art gallery in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, that supports artists of color and opposes gentrification, has been forced to relocate after the building where it was located was sold. It plans to reopen in a new space in the fall.

“I thought the art world needed a commercial space that was genuinely black-owned. Our mission as a space is simply to support artists of color.”
— KJ Freeman, Co-Owner of HOUSING Gallery

APPOINTMENT/AWARDS | From left, Julie Mehretu joined the board at SFMOMA; Henry Taylor received the Robert De Niro Sr. Prize; and Kapwani Kiwanga was shortlisted for the Sobey Artist Award in Canada. | Images, via Wikimedia Commons; via ICA Los Angeles; and Photo by Bertille Chérot, Courtesy Galerie Jérôme Poggi (Paris), via National Gallery of Canada


The San Francisco Museum of Art made announcements about its board of trustees. Changes include the elevation of Charles M. Collins to vice chair, and the appointment of Julie Mehretu as an artist trustee. Collins is president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of San Francisco. “HOWL, eon (I, II),” a large-scale, site-specific diptych by New York-based Mehretu hangs in the museum’s atrium.


Los Angeles-based artist Henry Taylor rreceived the 2018 Robert De Niro Sr. Prize. The $25,000 award “recognizes a mid-career American artist for significant and innovative contributions to the field of painting.” The inaugural De Niro Prize went to Stanley Whitney in 2011.

Choreographer and performance artist Rashida Bumbray of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and multimedia visual artist Miguel Luciano, who is based in East Harlem, are the inaugural artists for a new residency program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Civic Practice Partnership supports New York City artists committed to social change in their communities.

The Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada announced Kapwani Kiwanga is among the five artists shortlisted for the 2018 Sobey Artist Award. The nation’s premier artist prize recognizes Canadian artists who are 40 and under. Earlier this year, Kiwanga won the inaugural Frieze Artist Award at Frieze New York. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, she lives and works in Paris.



Artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, the founders of For Freedoms, the artist-run political action committee, launched an ambitious crowd-sourced fundraising effort to bring artist-designed billboards to communities throughout the nation. The goal of the 52 individual Kickstarter campaigns, one for each U.S. state, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, is to raise $3,000 for a billboard display. Described as the largest-ever creative collaboration in the United States, the non-partisan initiative aims to bridge art and civic participation through the billboard program, town halls, and special exhibitions. More than 200 cultural institutions have signed on and 300-500 artists are expected to participate, according to the announcement. The billboards will be displayed this fall in advance of the November 2018 midterm elections.

The New York State legislature approved a bill paving the way for David Hammons to develop a permanent public art installation that will float in the Hudson River near the Whitney Museum of American Art. Hammons is collaborating with the museum on the grand sculptural work titled “Day’s End.”

British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye has designed a 66-story condominium tower in New York City’s downtown Financial District. Located at 130 William Street, the facade features deeply textured cast concrete panels with arched windows. With 244 residential units, move-ins are expected to begin in early 2020.

“He is a remarkable, visionary architect whose design aesthetic is refined yet provocative, and rooted in history.”
— Developer Mitchell C. Hochberg on David Adjaye

Kickstarter campaign aims to fund artist-designed billboards in the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. | Video by For Freedoms


Poetry reading is up, according to new research from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The largest increase in fans resides among people aged 18–24 and African American, Asian American, and other non-white readers. Social media and “highly visible” poets in mainstream culture—Elizabeth Alexander, Claudia Rankine, and U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, for example—are cited as factors in the growing interest.

The 2015 murder of nine African American parishioners inside a Charleston, S.C., church, prompted a nationwide movement to remove Confederate monuments and related symbols from public spaces. Despite the controversy, enthusiasm, news coverage, and some government action that resulted from the effort, less than 10 percent have been removed, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center. The center has updated its 2016 report, Whose Heritage? A Report on Public Symbols of the Confederacy, and found that only 110 Confederate symbols had been removed and 1,728 remain standing. CT


TOP IMAGE: Spider Martin and For Freedoms “Make America Great Again” billboard, installed in Pearl, Miss. | © Wyatt Gallery


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.