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

Last year, the College Art Association recognized Los Angeles-based artist Samella Lewis with a lifetime achievement award. | Courtesy CAA


Samella Lewis (1923-2022), a legendary figure in the field of African American art, died on May 27 in Torrance, Calif. She was 99. An artist, activist, art historian, author, educator, filmmaker, and institution builder, she wore many hats over her 70-year career. Lewis established the Museum of African American Art in Los Angeles, was a founder of the National Conference of Artists, and launched Black Art: an International Quarterly, an arts journal now called the International Review of African American Art. Born in New Orleans, Lewis met Elizabeth Catlett and Charles White when she was a student at Dillard University and counted the celebrated artists among her mentors. In 1951, Lewis earned a Ph.D., in art history from Ohio State University. From the mid-1960s, she lived in Los Angeles. When her position in the education department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art proved frustrating due to the museum’s lack of interest in African American art and artists, she left and created opportunities on her own. Lewis opened multiple galleries and published the two-volume “Black Artists on Art” with Ruth Waddy (1969), “Art: African American,” monographs of Catlett and Richmond Barthé, and the catalog “Richmond Barthe, Richard Hunt: Two Sculptors, Two Eras.” A professor at several institutions, after chairing the art department at Florida A&M University at the early 1950s, Lewis taught a Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., for 15 years until she retired as a professor emerita (1969-1984). Scripps established the Samella Lewis Contemporary Art Collection in 2007 with the goal of acquiring primarily works by leading African American and women artists. Last year, the College Art Association (CAA) recognized Lewis with its 2021 Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement. The honor “celebrates an artist who has demonstrated particular commitment to their work throughout a long career with national and international impact.” CAA said Lewis embodied the criteria. | Los Angeles Times



In Indiana, Colette Pierce Burnette was named president and CEO of Newfields, “a place for nature and art” that includes the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It’s been a rocky couple of years at Newfields. In 2020, Kelli Morgan, an associate curator of American art, departed the museum citing its toxic and discriminatory culture in her resignation letter. Last year, then-president and CEO Charles Venable stepped down after the institution posted a job description seeking a director who could “attract a broader and more diverse audience while maintaining the Museum’s traditional, core, white art audience.” His downfall created the vacancy Pierce Burnette is filling. Her experience includes two decades in higher education with a background in engineering, information technology, and public service. She joins Newfields on Aug. 1 from Huston-Tillotson University, a HBCU in Austin, Texas, where she has been serving as president and CEO since 2015. | Indianapolis Star

Michael J. Bramwell is joining the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in a newly created role: Joyce Linde Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art. An artist, curator and scholar of Edgefield, S.C., potter David Drake (1801-1865), Bramwell is a visiting guest curator at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) in Winston-Salem, N.C. He officially joins the MFA on June 1. | Boston Globe


Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., announced a transformational gift from The Alice L. Walton Foundation, $10 million to support and extend its internship program. Designed to train future arts leaders and help build an inclusive culture in the museum field, the museum is partnering with two HBCUs—Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., and Fisk University in Memphis, Tenn.—to recruit interns. Walton is the founder of Crystal Bridges. | Arkansas Business


Books & Catalogs

The California African American Museum (CAAM) launched a new publishing program. The first catalog to be released documents “Enunciated Life,” a 2021 exhibition organized by CAAM Visual Arts Curator Taylor Renee Aldridge. The show featured works by 13 contemporary artists that “draw upon the choreography and sonics of possession and surrender found in Black spirituality.” In addition to CAAM and the Reparations Club, a Black-owned bookshop in Los Angeles, the volume is available at Printed Matter and Arcana Books. | More

More News

The FBI’s Art Crime Team is investigating the authenticity of 25 paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The works are currently on view in “Heroes and Monster: Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Thaddeus Mumford, Jr. Venice Collection,” an exhibition at the Orlando Museum of Art that runs unil June 30. | New York Times


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