Rendering of “The Embrace” designed by Hank Willis Thomas with MASS Design Group. | Courtesy King Boston

The following review of the past week or so presents a snapshot of the latest news in African American art and related black culture:
Hank Willis Thomas Selected to Design King Memorial in Boston

“The Embrace,” a monumental bronze-finish sculpture designed by artist Hank Willis Thomas with MASS Design Group has been chosen to honor Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King on the Boston Common. In the early 1950s, the Kings met in Boston while he was attending theology school at Boston University and she was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music. Modeled after a photograph of the Kings embracing after the civil rights leader won the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1964, the 22-foot high memorial depicts a pair intertwined arms. The winning design was selected after a competitive proposal process. Thomas bested four other finalists, teams that included artists Yinka Shonibare, Barbara Chase-Riboud, and Adam Pendleton with Adjaye Associates.

LISTEN to a report about the design for the King memorial. | WBUR – Boston Public Radio

David Adjaye Designing Ghana’s Inaugural Venice Pavilion

Ghana’s first-ever national pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale (May 11-Nov. 24, 2019) will be deigned by British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye. Titled “Ghana Freedom,” the exhibition will feature works by artists Felicia Abban, John Akomfrah, El Anatsui, Ibrahim Mahama, Selasi Awusi Sosu, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Filmmaker Nana Oforiatta Ayim is curating the pavilion and Okwui Enwezor, artistic director of 56th Venice Biennale, is serving as a strategic advisor.

South Africa Announces Three Artists for Venice Biennale

Artists Mawande Ka Zenzile, Dineo Seshee Bopape and Tracey Rose are representing South Africa at the 58th Venice Biennale (May 11-Nov. 24, 2019). Nkule Mabaso and Nomusa Makhubu of Natal Collective are curating the country’s pavilion and plan an exhibition titled “The Stronger We Become” exploring social, political and economic resilience in post-Apartheid South Africa.


In response to the thesis exhibition of Deyane Moses, the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is reckoning with its history of segregation. | Video by CBS WJZ-13

Student Exhibition Documents History of Racism at Maryland Art School

For her senior thesis project at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, photography student Deyane Moses documented the school’s white’s only admission policy dating from the late 1800s to the 1950s. An Army veteran attending MICA on the GI Bill, Moses presented an exhibition titled “Blackives” exploring the school’s segregationist past alongside the images and experiences of current African American students. In response to her revelatory project, MICA President Samuel Hoi released a statement acknowledging the school’s racist history and emphasizing its contemporary “commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and globalization.”

Study: 85 Percent of Artists in Museum Collection are White

The nonprofit Public Library of Science (PLOS) found that 85 percent of artists represented in the collections of the museums surveyed are white and 87 percent are men. Though the methodology was not exacting, PLOS examined more than 40,000 works of art in the collections of 18 major U.S. museums.


A keynote conversation among Bill T. Jones, Julie Mehretu, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Toshi Reagon, and Thelma Golden, exploring “the state of American culture in the age of Trump,” concluded the Feb. 17 symposium. | Video by Park Avenue Armory

NYC Symposium Explored ‘Culture in a Changing America’

Presented in collaboration with the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Park Avenue Armory hosted a daylong symposium exploring “Culture in a Changing America” through the lens of Art & Identity and Art & Activism. The Feb. 17 event brought together artists, activists, scholars, and community leaders for a series of conversations, open studios, performances, and workshops. Panelists and participants included Thelma Golden, Julie Mehretu, Leslie Hewitt, Okwui Okpokwasili, Walter Hood, Amanda Williams, Mabel O. Wilson, Tunde Wey, Malik Gaines, Theaster Gates, Bill T. Jones, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Toshi Reagon, Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray, Darius Clark Monroe, Sherrill Roland, Yance Ford, and Lynn Nottage.

Queens Museum Emerging Artist Fellowship

The Queens Museum Jerome Foundation Fellowship 2019-20 is open to emerging artists living in the five boroughs of New York City. Two artists will each receive $20,000. The one-year fellowship includes professional development consultations, mentorship from Queens museum staff, and an exhibition at the museum in 2020 at the end of the fellowship. Deadline is April 25, 2019

2019 Light Work Grants in Photography

Applications are open for 2019 Light Work Photography grants. Recipients must live within 50 miles of Syracuse, N.Y. Grants of $3,000 will be awarded to three photographers. Deadline April 1, 2019


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