The following review presents a snapshot of the recent news in African American art and related black culture:
Duro Olowu is Collaborating with Estée Lauder on a New Makeup Collection

Known for his kaleidoscopic prints, British fashion designer Duro Olowu worked with Estée Lauder on a new makeup collection. “I love mixing unusual combinations of prints and fabrics to form this collage kaleidoscope,” said Olowu in a new video announcing the beauty products. His clothing line emphasizes individuality and confidence in women, serving as a model for the collaboration. Olowu designed the packaging and also curated the customized makeup colors. “The color palettes of my prints are often by inspired art and artists, including Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Henri Matisse, Alma Thomas, Robert Rauschenberg, Alice Neel, Chris Ofili, Édouard Vuillard, El Anatsui, Lee Krasner and Toyin Ojih Odutola,” said Olowu, who has organized exhibitions at Salon 94 in New York City and Camden Arts Centre in London.

Calling Foul on the Dominance of White Cultural Critics

An opinion essay published in The New York Times states that “the most dynamic art in America today is being made by artists of color and indigenous artists,” yet the reviewers evaluating visual art, film, television, theater and music at major influential outlets, where “national mythologies are articulated, debated and affirmed,” are largely white men. The article is authored by Elizabeth Méndez Berry, a director at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and Chi-hui Yang, a program officer at the Ford Foundation. Berry and Yang established Critically Minded, an initiative supporting critics of color that is funded by the two foundations.

Lonnie Bunch Says Sackler Name Will Remain on Smithsonian Museum

In the wake of the opioid crisis, major museums are scrutinizing and rejecting new support from the Sackler family which owns Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of OxyContin. In response to a letter from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) requesting the Sackler name be removed from the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch said the monicker would remain on the Asian art museum. In one of his first public actions leading the Smithsonian, Bunch said a legal agreement obligated the institution to uphold the name in perpetuity.

Amoako Boafo Wins Austrian Art Prize

The 2019 STRABAG Artaward International was awarded to Amoako Baofo. The Ghanaian born artist is studying for his MFA at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. He was selected from a group of five finalists whose work is on view in a group exhibition at STRABAG Artlounge in Vienna. The prize, which includes €15,000 (about $16,850), was announced June 27. Subsequently, each of the recognized artist will have a solo show, beginning with Baofo in October. Known for his portraits centering black subjectivity, he had a solo show at Roberts Projects in Los Angeles, earlier this year.

University of Maryland Receives $2 Million for Black Digital Humanities

The University of Maryland, College Park was awarded a three-year $2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support its African American History, Culture and Digital Humanities initiative.

More Than Two Dozen Artists Painted Murals at Maya Angelou High School in Los Angeles

In May, 31 local and international artists and collectives painted murals at Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School in Los Angeles. Works by Victoria Cassinova, Shepard Fairey, Rob Hill, L.E.O., Shawn Michael Warren, and French artist JR’s Inside Out Project, among others, have transformed the campus which houses a public charter and district school. The murals pay tribute to Angelou and the ideals for which the poet and activist stood and also celebrate the school and surrounding community. Branded Arts and the Los Angeles Unified School District organized a weeklong festival around the project. Find more images and coverage at LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and Hyperallergic.

World Trade Center Artist Residency

A real estate developer is dedicating 44,000 square feet to an artist residency program on the 50th floor of 3 World Trade Center. Silver Art Projects, a corporate responsibility initiative from Silverstein Properties, is offering free studio space for 30 artists every September for up to eight months. A rotating panel will select the artists. For 2019, the jurors are Isolde Brielmaier, executive director and curator of arts, culture, and community at Westfield World Trade Center; Frieze Magazine associate editor Evan Moffitt; and Nicola Vassell, the founder of the curatorial agency Concept NV and curator of the Dean Collection who recently organized “Dreamweavers” at UTA Artist Space. The application deadline for the inaugural cycle is July 31.

Hyundai Tate Research Centre Seeking Adjunct Curators

Tate Modern in London is hiring for three adjunct curator positions focused on Africa & African Diaspora, First Nation and Indigenous Art, and Modernisms, at the Hyundai Tate Research Centre. Two-year freelance contracts are being offered for modest compensation. The positions close July 15.


A recap of the Maya Angelou Mural Festival (May 13-18, 2019). | Video by Branded Arts


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