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

Roland Freeman (1936-2023). | Photo by the artist


Roland Leeon Freeman (1936-2023), a photographer and collector of quilts made by African Americans, died on Aug. 7 in Washington, D.C. He was 87. Freeman’s unrivaled practice documented Black culture and Southern folk and craft traditions. Born in Baltimore, Md., Freeman met Zora Neale Hurston at age 14, a foundational experience that informed his life’s direction. An Air Force veteran (1954-58), he began photographing in Washington in the late 1960s, landing a job at the D.C. Gazette, where he served as photo editor from 1968-73. Freeman cited the images of Gordon Parks and Roy DeCarava among his influences. He captured the the Poor People’s Campaign “Mule Train,” a month-long caravan from Marks, Miss., to the nation’s capital in 1968. In the early 1970s, Freeman co-directed the Mississippi Folklife Project for the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and was a research associate/photographer for the center. He balanced work as a stringer for Time, Magnum Photos, and countless other media outlets with an array of documentary projects in the South. In 2007, Freeman received an NEA National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts. His images have been exhibited internationally in museums and galleries and published in several books. In February, Freeman’s collection of 131 quilts was gifted to the Mississippi Museum of Art through the Kohler Foundation. In March, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill acquired his archive. The Roland L. Freeman Collection is part of the UNC’s Southern Folklife Collection at the Wilson Special Collections Library. (8/17) | Washington Post



In Nigeria, Hannatu Musawa (left) was appointed minister of art, culture and the creative economy, a newly-created role in President Bola Tinubu’s 45-member cabinet. Tinubu was just elected in May. Musawa is a lawyer and human rights activist whose portfolio will include ongoing negotiating for the return of Benin Bronzes from U.S. and European institutions and the development of new museums in Nigeria. She succeeds Layiwola Mohammed, who had served as culture minister since 2015. Photo via Hannatu Musawa/Facebook (8/18) | Art Newspaper

The August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC) announced three new appointments earlier this summer. Amanda Brandes is AWAACC’s new vice president of institutional advancement. Previously, Brandes was senior director of foundation and corporate partnerships at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York. Sheila Edwell Rawlings was named senior director of institutional advancement. Rawlings joined AWAACC after serving for 12 years as director of development at Pittsburgh’s The Neighborhood Academy, a private, college prep school for grades 6-12. Kimberly Diana Jacobs has taken on the role of exhibitions manager and assistant curator. A writer and curator with more than a decade of experience, Jacobs has worked on a variety of curatorial, public programming, and museum education projects. She was a Hannah Behrend Fellow at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a Romare Bearden Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum. (6/28) | More

The African American Arts Alliance of Chicago has a new president for the first time in a quarter century. Charlique C. Rolle succeeded founding president Jackie Taylor, who led the organization since its founding in 1997. An arts administrator, interdisciplinary artist, choreographer, director, producer, actor and writer, Rolle serves as executive director of Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago. She has been a member of the Alliance board for three years. (8/21) | More

The Museum of London appointed Bridget Banton to its Board of Governors, effective in July. A creative consultant and former teacher, Banton founded Dear Creative Gurl last year. The consultancy provides “strategic advice, storytelling and content development to production companies, broadcasters and tech start-ups.” (8/18) | More


A’Driane Nieves. | Courtesy VSF


Philadelphia-based artist A’Driane Nieves joined Various Small Fires (VSF). The Los Angeles gallery is representing Nieves in collaboration with Galerie Marguo in Paris, France. VSF will feature her work at Frieze London in October. Seeking a way to understand and navigate postpartum depression and a subsequent diagnosis of bipolar disorder, Nieves began to paint in 2011. According to the artist, “Each piece is a part of the body, psyche, and soul turned inside out; the intimate recesses, fault lines, eroded sediment, gravity wells, multitudes, & universes we contain as we navigate a society that judges us by what can be seen with the eye.” A U.S. Air Force Veteran, Nieves founded Tessera Arts Collective and Abstractions Magazine. (8/18) | More



Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York announced the winners of the 2023 National Design Awards in 10 categories. Arem Duplessis received the award for Communications Design, which considers “the impactful use of design at the service of information sharing, messaging and overall communication.” Duplessis is the group creative director at Apple. Previously, he was design director at The New York Times Magazine. Winners were determined by a five-person jury, including Sara Zewde, founding principal of Studio Zewde in New York and assistant professor of practice Harvard University. (8/15) | See Full List

The Joan Mitchell Foundation announced recipients of the 2023 Joan Mitchell Fellowships, including Ash Arder (Detroit, Mich.); Anina Major (New York, N.Y.); Demond Melancon (New Orleans, La.); and Sable Smith (New Jersey). 15 U.S. artists are receiving $60,000 in unrestricted funds distributed over five years along with opportunities for professional development including personal finance and legacy planning, and participation in gatherings that “facilitate community building and peer learning.” (8/22) | See Full List

A British-American artist with Ghanaian roots, Senam Okudzeto is the recipient of the Paul Boesch Art Prize 2023. One of Sweden’s highest art prizes (50,000 Swiss Francs, nearly $57,000), the award was presented Aug. 24 at a ceremony at Kunst Museum Bern. Okudzeto works across painting, film, installation and social sculpture, embedding writing and scholarly research into her artistic practice, an “ongoing exploration of identity politics, material culture and critical responses to previously overlooked socio-economic and political histories.” (8/2) | More



In Durham, N.C., Ella West Gallery celebrated its grand opening on Aug. 19 with “Return to Parrish Street: A Dream Realized,” an exhibition featuring works by Kennedi Carter, Clarence Heyward, and Ransome. The Black woman-owned gallery was founded by Linda Shropshire (left), a longstanding collector who sits on the board of trustees for the North Carolina Museum of Art and is a member of the Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums. She named the gallery after her mother. Photo Courtesy Ella West Gallery (8/20) | More


After moving to white wash Black history curriculum in Florida public schools, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has turned his attention to a forthcoming state museum. DeSantis appointed Brian Butler, Altony Lee, and Rep. Berny Jacques (R-District 59) to the Florida Museum of Black History Task Force. Legislation to establish the museum was unanimously passed by the Republican-controlled State House and Senate and approved by DeSantis in May. The President of the Senate and Speaker of the House will also make three appointments each. In July, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R) appointed State Sen. Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach), who sponsored the bill. The nine-member task force is charged with making recommendations for the planning, construction, operation, and administration of the museum. The report to the governor and legislature is due July 1, 2024. (8/22) | More


Shantell Martin: “The UNO Artiste Series offers an incredible opportunity to infuse my art into one of the most iconic card games in the world.” | Courtesy Mattel Creations


Mattel Creations announced a new addition to its UNO Artiste Series. The latest collaboration is with artist Shantell Martin, who is known for her whimsical line drawings. Martin created all new drawings for card game. She is the sixth artist to participate in the series, which has also included Nina Chanel Abney, Takashi Murakami, Shepart Fairey, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. On Aug. 25, Martin’s deck is available for sale. (8/23) | More


Artscape is returning to Baltimore after a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19. Launched in 1982, Artscape is billed as America’s largest free arts festival. Organized by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, Artscape is taking place from Sept. 22-24. The event will be staged in the neighborhoods of Bolton Hill and Mount Royal and this year will also expand into the Station North Arts & Entertainment District. Festival highlights include visual art exhibitions, live music performances, culinary experiences, an artist marketplace, and activities for families and youth. The headliners are Kelly Rowlands, Nile Rogers, and Chic. The promotional video features visual artist Derrick Adams and Broadway legend André De Shields, among others. (8/7). | CBS News

Kendrick Lamar is out on tour this summer and he is bringing the work of artist Henry Taylor along with him. Lamar collaborated with the Los Angeles artist to create fabric backdrops that feature Taylor’s paintings. Six made between 2006 and 2018 are in rotation with four shown during each show. Concert performances have included Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Spain (June 2) and Lollapalooza in Chicago’s Grant Park (Aug. 4) | ARTnews


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