Cleveland Museum of Art

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

The Cleveland Museum of Art announced its first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan on Aug. 12. The result of a year-and-a-half collaboration among the institutions’s board, staff, and volunteers, the museum said the plan is designed to “ensure that the institution better reflects the demographics of the region that it serves and is positioned to connect with a larger, more diverse local, national and international community.” Read the plan here.

Coco Fusco is among five artists speaking up and lending their support to Cuban artists in the wake of Cuba’s Decree 439, which was issued last month regulate and restrict the activities and services of creatives working in a variety of fields, including visual artists. Fusco, Tania Bruguera, Laritza Diversent, Yanelys Nuñez, and Enrique Risco issued an open letter on Aug. 8 to “request a dialogue between Cuban arts professionals and the Cuban government to reconsider this measure.”

Historic markers acknowledging the murder of Emmett Till were erected in northwest Mississippi in 2007. The sign installed on the riverbank where 14-year-old Till’s mutilated body was discovered tied to a cotton-gin fan has been repeatedly vandalized. Over the past decade, it’s been torn down and more than 100 bullets have been fired into it. A new sign was recently installed and about a month later it was shot up again.

Early this summer, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., was flooded by “vandals” who cut a pipe causing water to run into the bottom floor of the newly renovated building for 12 hours. Read about what’s happened since here and here.

For Vanity Fair, Tina Knowles Lawson welcomed curator Kimberly Drew into her Hollywood home to talk about her art collection which includes works by both modern and contemporary artists, from Hale Woodruff and Charles Alston to Robert Pruitt and Genevieve Gaignard. After her divorce, Lawson said she concentrated on the things that made her happy—high on the list was reading art books.


From left, Legacy Russell is joining the Studio Museum in Harlem; Akili Tommasino accepted a position at MFA Boston; and Bahia Ramos is the new director of arts at the Wallace Foundation. | Photos Courtesy Studio Museum in Harlem; By Franz Lino, Courtesy MFA Boston; By Catalina Ayubi, Courtesy Wallace Foundation


The Studio Museum in Harlem named Legacy Russell associate curator, exhibitions. She most recently served as European Gallery Relations Lead at Artsy. A writer and curator whose work focuses on gender, performance, and new media, Russell has also held posts at the Brooklyn Museum, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, Creative Time, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., and holds an MRes in art history from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Akili Tommasino is joining the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston as associate curator for modern and contemporary art, a newly created position. His tenure begins Oct. 15. Tommasino has been a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) since 2014. There, he founded Prep for Prep/Sotheby’s Summer Art Academy, a program designed to expose New York City high school students of color to museums and the larger world of art and promote diversity in the field. Tommasino is a doctoral candidate at Harvard, where he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the history of art and architecture. His new appointment marks a return to MFA where he interned in the Art of Europe department a decade ago.

Bahia Ramos is the new director of arts at the Wallace Foundation in New York, N.Y. Ramos said she is thrilled to join the foundation and “continue its important work in helping our grantees meet the needs of changing audiences, and to ensure that the arts remain accessible to our youth.”

The High Museum of Art in Atlanta announced four new members of its board of directors, including Keinon Johnson, vice president of urban promotions at Interscope Records, and Michael Render, the musician, actor, and community activist known as “Killer Mike.” Render spoke to artnet News about his new role.



Borealis Philanthropy launched the Racial Equity in Philanthropy Fund, which is designed to diversify the nonprofit field where less than 20 of leaders are people of color. With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation, the first round of grants—$14 million over three years—were issued to 19 “philanthropy-serving organizations committed to advancing racial equity within the sector and beyond.”

New grants were announced by the National Endowment for the Humanities. $43.1 million in awards were issued for 218 humanities projects. The funding includes a new category, the Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grant program, which is supporting projects at 29 institutions.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is funding a $43 Million Arts Innovation and Management Training Program to help strengthen the capacity and programming of small and medium-sized cultural organizations. More than 200 organizations in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., will be selected to participate. Support for 45 organizations in Atlanta—including Art Papers, ArtsATL, Burnaway, Flux Projects, and the Museum Of Contemporary Art Of Georgia—were recently announced. The names of 47 additional organizations in Washington, D.C., and 38 in Pittsburgh, have also been released.


Artist Awards: From left, Kara Walker is being recognized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Titus Kaphar received the Rappaport Prize; and Leo Twiggs won the Society 1858 Prize. | Photos by Ari Marcopoulos, Christian Högstedt, and Jerry Siegel


Kara Walker is receiving the 2018 Contemporary Vision Award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Walker will be honored at an Oct. 3 dinner at the museum where the program will include a conversation between the artist and Eungie Joo, SFMOMA’s curator of contemporary art.

The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum awarded this year’s Rappaport Prize to Titus Kaphar. The prize recognizes “a contemporary artist with strong connections to New England and a proven record of achievement.” As a part of the honor, Kaphar, who splits his time between New York and Connecticut, will deliver a public lecture on Oct. 30 at the deCordova in Lincoln, Mass.

The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, S.C., selected painter Leo Twiggs as the winner of this year’s Society 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, which includes a $10,000 cash award. Twiggs, 84, is the first artist from South Carolina to be honored with the 10-year-old prize. He will be recognized at a Sept. 19 reception at the museum.


The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles is looking for an Associate Curator for Modern and Contemporary Collections specializing in postwar African American collections.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Jobs page lists an Assistant Conservator position at Watts Towers. Some of the duties listed for this conservation post include performing “treatments using techniques and procedures previously developed and tested by LACMA staff for the repair of cracks and spalls in the cement mortar and the securing of loose decorative elements.” CT


TOP IMAGE: Courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art


Many volumes explore the work of Kara Walker, among them “Kara Walker: Dust Jackets for the Niggerati.” More recently published titles include “The Ecstasy of St. Kara,” an “extensive examination of how Walker envisions the rise and fall of society” influenced in part by the artist’s residency at the American Academy in Rome, and “Kara Walker – MCMXCIX,” a more recently published “sketchbook” (2017) that features works she began in 1999 at the age of 29.


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