Latest News in Black Art features news updates and developments in the world of art and related culture

Left, VMFA Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver is chairing the Armory Show’s 2021 Curatorial Leadership Summit. Right, Lowery Stokes Sims recently co-curated the traveling retrospective “Art & Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott.” Her current projects include curating “Frederick J. Brown: The Sound of Color” at Berry Campbell Gallery; authoring the catalog essay for “Betty Blayton: In Search of Grace” at Mnuchin Gallery; and serving as a mentor to security guards at the Baltimore Museum of Art, who are curating an exhibition of works drawn from the museum’s collection. | IMAGES: Photo by Travis Fullerton, Courtesy VMFA; Sam D, ArtTable

Art Fairs

On Sept. 10, a public discussion between Valerie Cassel Oliver and Lowery Stokes Sims will kick off the 2021 Curatorial Leadership Summit at the Armory Show at Jacob Javits Center in New York. An independent curator and art historian, Sims served for nearly 30 years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, rising to curator of modern and contemporary art. She is also a former executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem and a veteran of the Museum of Arts & Design. Cassel Oliver is chair of the summit and curator of modern and contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va., where her exhibition “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse” is currently on view through Sept. 6. She recently spoke about the 2021 summit program, which is titled Museums as Monuments.



Sadé Ayorinde is the inaugural Warren Family Curatorial Fellow at the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) in New York. Ayorinde officially starts two-year fellowship in September and will work on a variety of exhibition, publication, and collection projects. A key focus of her portfolio will be working with Emelie Gevalt, curatorial chair for collections and curator of folk art, on the forthcoming exhibition “Unnamed Figures: Black Presence and Absence in Early American Vernacular Art.” The show is scheduled to open in 2023. Ayorinde holds an undergraduate degree in international business and a masters degree in art history, both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a Ph.D., candidate in the history of art at Cornell University.

IMAGE: Curatorial Fellow Sadé Ayorinde. | Courtesy American Folk Art Museum


Opinion columnist Karen Attiah pointed out the troubling history behind the Tiffany Diamond worn by Beyoncé in her new collobration with jeweler Tiffany & Company. She and her husband Jay-Z are featured with a 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting in the ad campaign. The huge 128.54 carat yellow Tiffany diamond was found in a South African mine by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1877. “In South Africa in the 1870s, when the Tiffany diamond was found, British forces launched battles of conquest and harsh discriminatory practices against African tribes and laborers. South Africa’s conflict-ridden mining industry paved the way for apartheid,” Attiah wrote. She added: “Indeed, it’s time that we expand the definition of blood diamonds and conflict minerals. For years, blood diamonds and conflict minerals from Africa were defined narrowly, as resources used by dangerous militias and warlords to finance their operations. But thousands of African lives were lost and communities destroyed in the colonial quest to control the continent’s resources.” | The Washington Post

Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist Martine Syms collaborated with French brand Études. Featuring clothing and “STRAIT,” a new book, the Études x Martine Syms collection is inspired by Syms’s exhibition “Grand Calme” at Sadie Coles HQ in London, her poem “Lessons I–CLXXX,” and the color purple, a signature motif in the artist’s work that references the Alice Walker novel. Études has previously collaborated with numerous artists, including Lorraine O’Grady and Henry Taylor.


The family of artist, curator, educator, and advocate Delilah W. Pierce (1904-1992) has been documenting and spreading the word about her life and work by creating a website and publicizing additional efforts to promote her legacy. A contemporary of Alma Thomas and Lois Mailou Jones, Pierce was a native of Washington, D.C., with ties to Martha’s Vineyard. She earned an undergraduate degree in fine art from Howard University (1931), where she later taught briefly, after a nearly 30-year career in the DC public schools (1925-1952). Pierce exhibited her work for more than 40 years and is represented in collections including the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Last year, her paintings were featured on Maryland Public Television’s Chesapeake Collectibles and are available through Galerie Myrtis in Baltimore.

IMAGE: Artist Delilah W. Pierce. | Source:

Awards & Honors

The New York Foundation for the Arts announced Rena Anakwe and Sana A. Malik are recipients of the 2021 Canadian Women Artists’ Award. The $5,000 prize is supported by funding from the Canadian Women’s Club (CWC) of New York, continuing the work of the now defunct philanthropic organization. A Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist, Anakwe hails from Nigeria and Canada.


“Al Mare” by Diana Ejaita. | The New Yorker, Aug. 2, 2021


For the Aug. 2 cover of The New Yorker magazine, artist and textile designer Diana Ejaita illustrated a joyful beach scene. Born in Italy, Ejaita is based in Berlin, and travels regularly to southern Nigeria and her hometown of Cremona. In a conversation about the cover image with art editor Françoise Moulya, the artist reflected on her childhood memories at the beach and described her chosen color palette. Ejaita said: “I think it is about balance. Used in the right amount, black does not swallow up other colors. Here, it helps to pep up the yellow and makes the sunny sky look even hotter.” | The New Yorker

More News

Harvard Law School unveiled a new logo shield, disavowing ties to slavery represented by the previous shield that featured the family crest of Isaac Royall Jr. Royall. In 1779, Royall made a bequest to Harvard College that helped establish the first named professorship in law. In 2016, the shield was retired after a history of Harvard revealed that Royall accumulated his wealth with the labor of enslaved people. Prof. Annette Gordon-Reed led the working group that developed the design for the new shield.

A trio of paintings by Amoako Boafo was launched into space on Friday attached to the parachute panels of New Shepard, a reusable suborbital rocket built by Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s aerospace company. The founder was not on board. “Suborbital Triptych” by Boafo features the paintings “Self Portrait with Pink Tulips” (2021), “Shormeh’s Gold Earrings” (2021), and “White and Gold Head Wrap” (2021). The project inaugurated the “Art x Space” program, a collaboration between the technology company Uplift Aerospace and Blue Origin designed to send commissioned works of art into space. | Artnet News


The Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums is seeking a research and data fellow. Established last year, the stated mission of the organization is to “increase the inclusion of Black perspectives and narratives in North American art museums to make our institutions more equitable and excellent spaces of cultural engagement.” Based in New York City, the Black Trustee Alliance is a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. | More Info

For artists residing in the Southeastern United States, ArtFields offers exhibition opportunities and significant cash prizes ($50,000 Grand Prize, $25,000 for Second Place, plus People’s Choice and Merit Awards). Up to 400 artists will be invited to display their work during ArtFields, a citywide event staged in galleries, warehouses, restaurants, shops, and other spaces in Lake City, S.C., from April 22-30, 2022. Call for entries is Sept. 1-Nov. 1, 2021. | More Info CT


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