“Café​, Paris” (1929) by Archibald J. Motley Jr., at DIA

The following review of the past week or so presents a snapshot of the latest news in African American art and related black culture:
Museum Staffers are Sharing Their Salaries on a Google Spreadsheet

Employees of museums across the country are publicizing their salaries on a Google Spread sheet that began making the rounds Friday. Contributors numbered about 350 in the first 24 hours and grew to more than 660 by Sunday. As of today, 1,000 plus have added their information. The goal is to bring greater transparency to the museum field and attention to fair wages and equal pay. Michelle Millar Fisher, an assistant curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, started the document. She told ARTnews she and her colleagues were inspired to discuss how much they are paid by Kimberly Drew discussing her compensation during a keynote discussion at the annual meeting of the American Alliance of Museums. (Drew said when she was social media manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art she made less than her predecessor, a white man.) Current and former museum employees have added their information to the spreadsheet anonymously. In most cases, contributors work primarily in curatorial departments, but also throughout museums in education, communications, and development, as registrars, in guest services and more. Each lists the museum where they work (in some instances a generic description of the institution is used, for example “large California museum”), along with their position, department, salary, and tenure, with optional categories including race and gender.

Middle School Students Reported Being Racially Profiled at MFA Boston

More than two dozen seventh graders, all students of color from the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy Charter Public School, reported being profiled by security officials at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston on May 16. The students said security followed them from gallery to gallery and over scrutinized their behavior, while paying little attention other student groups. Their teacher, Marvelyn Lamy, wrote about their museum going while black/brown experience on Facebook. She added that a staff member who welcomed them and some museum patrons made rude, racist and snide remarks directly to the students and within earshot of the group. A week after the incident, the museum offered a public apology from its leadership team including Matthew Teitelbaum, the director of MFA Boston. Following an internal investigation, the museum issued a follow up statement announcing steps it intended to take to address the situation, including a review of security procedures and mandatory unconscious bias training for staff.

Gordon Parks Foundation to Honor Kehinde Wiley and Reprise Great Day in Hip Hop Photograph

Painter Kehinde Wiley.will be honored at the Gordon Parks Foundation’s annual award dinner and auction. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Chelsea Clinton, Carol Sutton Lewis and William M. Lewis, Jr., and Raf Simons will also be recognized. Comedienne and actress Sarah Jones is hosting the June 4 gala in New York City. The event will also commemorate the 20th anniversary of the A Great Day in Hip Hop photograph Gordon Parks was commissioned to shoot for XXL magazine, with figures from the earlier image coming together for a new photograph captured by Jamel Shabazz. (A 2018 honoree, he currently has an exhibition at the foundation). Questlove will make remarks and The Roots is performing.

New Acquisitions by Archibald Motley, Aaron Douglas to be Displayed at Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts has been rotating works featured in “Out of the Crate: New Gifts and Purchases,” an exhibition showcasing new acquisitions added to its collection. Debuting June 8, the latest group includes nine works, among them: “Café, Paris,” a 1929 painting by Archibald John Motley Jr. (top of page); “Bravado, Defiance, Flight, and Surrender” (1972) by Aaron Douglas; and a 1971-73 photograph of Aretha Franklin by Anthony Barboza, printed in 2018.

Jamillah James is Curating Focus Section of Next Armory Show

Curator Jamillah James of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (shown at right), has been tapped to organize the Focus section of The Armory Show. The New York City art fair is scheduled March 5-8, 2020. Focus features solo- and dual-artist exhbitions presenting some of “today’s most relevant and compelling artworks.” James is also co-curating the 2021 New Museum Triennial.

Artist Glenn Ligon Joins Board of Laxart

Laxart, the nonprofit art space in Los Angeles, named five new members to its board of directors, including artist Glenn Ligon. Existing board members include artist Rodney McMillian. Hamza Walker is the director of Laxart, where a September exhibition will present the work of British fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner and British Ghanaian photographer Liz Johnson Artur.

Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw Joins National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., appointed Gwendolyn DuBois Show director of history, research and scholarship and senior historian. She will collaborate with the Smithsonian museum’s history, curatorial, and audience engagement departments on scholarly programming. Shaw has been serving as undergraduate chair and associate professor of history of art at the University of Pennsylvania.

Paul Gilroy to Direct London Academic Center on Race & Racism

Professor Paul Gilroy, a “foremost theorist on race and racism,” was appointed founding director of the new Centre for the Study of Race and Racism at University College London. He begins in August and is expected to establish a center that “harnesses scholarship from across UCL in the critical study of race as well as the history, theory and politics of racism and its effects.”

David Adjaye is Designing Major Contemporary Art Museum in India

British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye latest project is designing a new home for the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi. The museum will boast a collection of 6,000 works of art and also serve as a center for dance, music and creative education.

Researchers Found Last Slave Ship to Arrive in United States

The remains of the last known slave ship to arrive in the United States were found off the coast of Alabama. In 1860, the Clotilda sailed from Mobile to what is now Benin and returned with 109 Africans. Their descendants formed Africatown, a small community near mobile. A team led by maritime archaeologists and divers (the Alabama Historical Commission and SEARCH Inc.) authenticated the ship’s remains. The group is also working with the Slave Wrecks Project at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

“One of the things that’s so powerful about this is by showing that the slave trade went later than most people think, it talks about how central slavery was to America’s economic growth and also to America’s identity,” Bunch says. “For me, this is a positive because it puts a human face on one of the most important aspects of African American and American history. The fact that you have those descendants in that town who can tell stories and share memories – suddenly it is real.” — Lonnie Bunch, Director, NMAAHC

Archive of Fab 5 Freddy Acquired by Schomburg Center

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem acquired the archive of Fab 5 Freddy, the graffiti artist, music video director, and film producer best known as the original host of “Yo! MTV Raps.” Born Freddy Braithwaite, his collection of photographs, videos, notebooks, screenplays, vinyl records, fliers and apparel fills 120 boxes.


Applications are open for the Lightwork 2020 Artist-in-Residence program in Syracuse, N.Y. The program is “open to all artists working in photography or image-based media, from any country.” Deadline is Monday, July 1, 2019.

George Washington Carver Museum in Austin, Texas, is looking for a culture and arts education manager. CT


IMAGES: Top of page, ARCHIBALD MOTLEY JR. (Americans), “Café​, Paris,” 1929 (oil on canvas). | Museum Purchase, Ernest & Rosemarie Kanzler Foundation Fund. Detroit Institute of Arts; Above right, Jamillah James. | Photo by Paul Sepuya


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