When Nina Simone’s childhood home was in danger of demolition, four prominent artists bought it for $95,000.

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

Artists Adam Pendleton, Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson, and Julie Mehretu came together last year to buy and preserve the home where Nina Simone was born. Now the residence in Tryon, N.C., has been declared a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Last fall, the Worchester Art Museum quietly introduced new exhibition labels in its early American galleries, with descriptions that note the biographies of portrait subjects, including any details about slave ownership or how they directly benefitted from slavery.

William Pickard announced $2.1 million in gifts to Detroit institutions. The chairman and founder of GAA Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management is donating $1 million each to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Motown Museum, in addition to giving $100,000 to the Wayne County Community College District.

A new exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art features 15 works of art made by Minnesota artists in response to the police shooting of Philando Castile. In the wake of her son’s death, Valerie Castile received countless artworks inspired by him. A cold call to the museum led to the show.


Exhibition labels at the Worcester Museum of Art state if portrait subjects benefitted from slavery because it felt “almost unethical to allow the early American gallery to frame history with an uneven narrative that effaced people of color.” | Video by WBUR


Several staffing changes were announced by the Baltimore Museum of Art, including the appointment of Gamynne Guillotte as the new chief education officer. She had been serving as interim co–deputy director of education and interpretation since 2015.

The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park, which has been led by Executive Director Curlee Raven Holton since 2014, is bringing on David R. Brigham, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, to serve as senior advisor to the executive director.

After an 11-year tenure, Juanita Moore announced her retirement from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. She is departing July 1. Board member George Hamilton will helm the museum on an interim basis while the institution conducts a nationwide search for her replacement.


The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland announced Sondra Perry is the inaugural winner of the Toby Prize. Established by collector Toby Devan Lewis, the award includes $25,000 toward a new commission and $25,000 cash. Based in Perth Amboy, N.J., Perry is recognized for your innovative video installations.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art named four recipients of its 2018 Art + Technology grants—Tahir Hemphill, Jen Liu, Sarah Rara, and Diana Thater. Chosen from among 430 submissions, the grants support projects such as Hemphill’s “Implications of a Rap Neural Network,” which engage emerging technologies.

Cosmo Whyte, Myra Greene and Krista Clark are recipients of the Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia’s 2018-19 Working Artist Project (WAP) Fellowship. WAP annually supports mid-career and established Atlanta area artists with a range of opportunities, including a $15,000 stipend, a solo exhibition of new works, and production of a full-color catalog. The artists were selected by Allison Glenn, associate curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Lorna Simpson was recently celebrated by the Whitney Museum of American Art and Tufts University. The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based artist received the 2018 SMFA Medal Award from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. The honor was presented at a gala event that included a dinner, silent auction of student works, and conversation with Simpson conducted by Christina Sharpe, a professor of English at Tufts. At the Whitney’s annual gala, Simpson was honored along with museum trustees Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo and Beth Rudin DeWoody.


June 2, 2017: Nigerian-born, U.S.-based artist and writer Olu Oguibe at Documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany, in front of his 52-foot high concrete obelisk. The pro-refugee work is inscribed with a quote from the Book of Matthew that reads, “I was a stranger and you took me in.,” in German, Turkish, Arabic, and English. | Photo by John MacDougall, AFP/Getty Images


The city of Kassel, Germany, voted in favor of purchasing Nigerian-born American artist Olu Oguibe‘s monument to refugees. The obelisk erected in a prominent town square won the Arnold Bode Prize at last year’s Documenta 14. At issue is whether the acquisition is an effort to take ownership of the work and remove it from the current site.

The 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair announced the 42 international art galleries participating in its forthcoming London event from Oct. 4-7, 2018. The selection includes 11 galleries showing in London edition for the first time; 3 US galleries; and 16 African-based galleries. More than 130 artists will be featured at the fair.


Boston plans a world-class memorial to Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King, who met in the city and have formative ties to the community. Barbara Chase-Riboud, Hank Willis Thomas, Yinka Shonibare, and David Adjaye in collaboration with Adam Pendleton are among the five teams participating in the final round of consideration to design the project.


A pair of important paintings by Emma Amos is displayed side-by-side in the exhibition “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85.” The works have been individually acquired by two different museums. “Flower Sniffer,” a self portrait, is going to the Brooklyn Museum, which organized the exhibition. Meanwhile, “Sandy and Her Husband” will be brought into the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture acquired several objects from the groundbreaking film Black Panther, including Chadwick Boseman’s hero costume and the shooting script signed by Ryan Coogler. CT


TOP IMAGE: Nina Simone Childhood Home. | Photo by Nancy Pierce, National Trust for Historic Preservation


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