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

Mary Evans. | Photo by Christa Holka


Nigerian born, British artist and educator Mary Evans (above) was named director of the University College London (UCL) Slade School of Fine Art. Over the past five years, Evans has been leading the BA Fine Art Course at Chelsea College of Art, University of the Arts London (UAL). Previously, she taught undergraduate fine art at Central Saint Martins. “Mary Evans: ‘Gilt'” is currently on view at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, South Africa, through Oct. 23. She officially starts at the Slade School on Oct. 4. (8/2) | More

Actor and director Felica Rashad is stepping down as dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University in Washington, D.C., at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year and the conclusion of her three-year contract. The news was announced in a public letter from Howard President Wayne A. I. Frederick, who noted that contributions to Fine Arts increased significantly during Rashad’s tenure and that she built up the faculty with prominent scholars, artists, and creatives. No reason was given for her departure. In 2021, Rashad was tapped to lead the re-establishment of the College of Fine Arts as an independent college. A Howard alum, Rashad earned a BFA in theater acting from the HBCU in 1970. (8/6) | More


Lane Coleman. | Courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts


The Board of Directors of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) elected Lane Coleman (above) to be its next chair, effective Jan. 1, 2024. He serves on the board’s executive committee and finance and audit committee. An avid art collector, Coleman is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Strike Group LLC, a government contractor and sustainment logistics and material supply-sourcing venture. At DIA, he succeeds Gene Gargaro, who led the board for more than 20 years, before announcing his retirement in May. According to the current bylaws, the board elects a new chair every three years and each chair may serve a maximum of three three-year terms. (8/9) | More

Swann Auction Galleries in New York announced the appointment of Corey Serrant (left) as associate director of LGBTQ+ Art, Material Culture & History. Swann held its fifth annual LGTBQ+ sale on August 17. Highlights included a Joan E. Biren (JEB) photo of twin sisters Barbara Smith and Beverly Smith, a feminist writer and a feminist health advocate, respectively. The lot sold for $2,250. Serrant began this month, also taking on a specialist role in the auction house’s African American Art Department. He had been working at Eric Firestone Gallery in New York as an associate director of sales. Serrant is returning to Swann. He previously served as an administrator and cataloguer in the African American Art Department (2020-22). Photo courtesy Swann Auction Galleries (8/9) | More


Los Angeles artist Rodney McMillian was recently celebrated in his hometown of Columbia, S.C. The Columbia Museum of Art acquired two paintings and hosted a reception on Aug. 7, during which McMillian received a key to the city along with a resolution from the General Assembly. State Sen. Todd Rutherford, the minority leader who grew up with the artist, did the honors. The paintings are on view in CMA’s collection gallery 20 through October. In 2025, McMillian will have solo exhibition at the museum. (8/8) | Post and Courier


In Philadelphia, design proposals for a statue honoring Harriet Tubman were revealed on Aug. 3. Presentations were given by five semi-finalists. All of the artists are Black: Vinnie Bagwell, Richard Blake, Tanda Francis, Alvin Pettit, and Basil Watson. The first statue depicting a Black female historic figure in the Philadelphia’s public art collection will be sited on the Northeast apron of City Hall. The city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is encouraging local residents to register their preferences among the five designs by completing a survey by Sept. 1. The final design will be selected by the African-American Statue Advisory Committee and is expected to be installed by fall 2024. (8/4) | Billy Penn at WHYY


Attributed to JACQUES GUILLAUME LUCIEN AMANS (1801–1888) “Bélizaire and the Frey Children,” circa 1937 (oil on canvas, 47 1/4 × 36 1/4 inches / 120 × 92.1 cm). | Metropolitan Museum of Art. Purchase, Acquisitions Fund, Brooke Russell Astor Bequest, Friends of the American Wing Fund, Muriel J. Kogan Bequest, and funds from various donors, 2023. 2023.317


The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York acquired “Bélizaire and the Frey Children” (circa 1837), a 19th portrait of four children with a fascinating backstory. For years, a young Black nattily dressed figure was overpainted, leaving an image of three white children. After the painting was restored revealing its original composition, it was eventually acquired by Baton Rouge, La., collector Jeremy K. Simien. He worked with Louisiana Historian Katy Morlas Shannon to learn the identity of the boy. Researching property and Census records, Shannon determined his name was Bélizaire and that he was enslaved by the family who commissioned the painting, which is attributed to French portraitist Jacques Guillaume Lucien Amans (1801-1888). Simien loaned the work to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, where it was on view last year (July 1-Jan. 29, 2023). Several days ago, the Met announced it had purchased the painting for an undisclosed sum. “Bélizaire and the Frey Children” will go on display this fall in the American Wing of The Met. According to the New York Times, “Met officials said the painting is actually the first naturalistic portrait in the American Wing of a named Black subject set in a Southern landscape.” (8/14) | New York Times

“I’ve been wanting to add such a work to the Met’s collection for the past 10 years, and this is the extraordinary work that appeared.” — Met Curator Betsy Kornhauser


In Charlotte, N.C., a group of prominent members of the arts and political communities have formed a group that is advocating for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board to name a school after artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988) who was born in Charlotte. There are two new schools in Charlotte that have yet to be named and four additional schools will be built if voters approve a bond package in November. (8/14) | WFAE Charlotte

In Sacramento, nearly 70 artists working across music, photography, visual, literary, and performing arts came together on July 29 for PROOf, a group photo documenting the collective creativity rooted in California’s capital city. Inspired by Art Kane’s Great Day in Harlem photo of 58 jazz musicians assembled on the stoop of a Harlem brownstone, the event was organized by local arts advocates Faith J. McKinnie, founder and director of Black Artist Foundry and Dev Anglin founder and creative director of the brand Nine Sixteen Luxuries/This is Sac. Anglin photographed the rare moment. Artists gathered in front SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center in downtown Sacramento, nearly 65 years after the original photo, which was taken on Aug. 12, 1958. (8/15) | Sacremento Observer


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