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

Colette Pierce Burnette. | Photo by Kylie Birchfield


Newfields Board of Trustees announced the “departure” of its CEO, Colette Pierce Burnette, (above) in a brief statement on Nov. 10, abruptly ending her 15-month tenure. The local community has been questioning the action in the days since and about 45 people, supported by several local organizations, protested the news in front of Newfields on Sunday evening. Newfields has not clarified whether Burnette resigned or was fired. Burnette joined Newfields, which includes the Indianapolis Museum of Art, after the cultural institution was trying to rebound from a string of racial issues occurring since the pandemic. The comprehensive effort to recover from the situation and transform the organization included, among other measures, electing Darrianne Christian board chair in 2021, hiring Burnette last year, and announcing the appointment of Belinda Tate as director of the museum in September. All three are Black women. Tate was slated to start Nov. 6. Four days later, Christian announced Burnette was no longer CEO. (11/19) | Indy Star

Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., welcomed a new president. The appointment of Agenia Walker Clark (left) was effective Nov. 6. Previously, Clark was CEO of the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee. Her prior experiences include serving as vice president of human resources for the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation and senior director of human resources at Vanderbilt University. She also held dual roles at the Canadian telecommunications provider Nortel Networks, directing human resources and managing government relations. Fisk is a storied HBCU with a renowned art collection. Aaron Douglas founded the university’s art department in 1944 and David C. Driskell succeeded him as chair in 1966. (9/12) | More

Robert Battle resigned as artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, effective immediatley, due to health concerns. Battle had served in the role since 2011. Matthew Rushing, the organization’s associate artistic director, will head the New York company until the board conducts a search to find the next artistic director. (11/16) | New York Times

Awards & Honors

The David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, announced the winner of the 2024 Porter/Driskell Book Award in African American Art History is “Black Modernisms in the Transatlantic World” (right) co-edited by Steven Nelson and Huey Copeland. (11/17) | More

Recognizing contemporary artists in Canada, the Sobey Art Award, a collaboration between the Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada, includes monetary prizes and an exhibition of five shortlisted artists selected in June. Kablusiak, a multidisciplinary Inuvialuk artist and curator, was announced the winner on Nov. 20 and will get a $100,000 prize. The remaining shortlisted artists, including Michèle Pearson Clarke, each receive $25,000. Trinidad-born, Toronto-based Clarke works across photography, video and installation. Her “work positions grief as a site of possibility for social engagement and political connection, with a particular focus on Black and queer experiences of longing and loss.” The exhibition remains on view at the National Gallery of Canada through March 3, 2024. (11/20) | More

The 2023 Access ART X Prize winners were announced with each receiving $10,000 to support a solo exhibition at ART x Lagos 2024. The Nigeria Award went to Julius Agbaje, who will also receive a three-month residency at Gasworks, London. Asmaa Jama won the Africa/Diaspora Award, which also includes a residency at Yinka Shonibare’s GAS Foundation in Lagos. (11/17) | More

In San Francisco, Eloghosa Osunde, author of “Vagabonds!” won the Museum of the African Diasapora’s annual African Literary Award, which includes a $2,500 honorarium. Osunde will be honored during a virtual ceremony on Dec. 3. The event features an author reading moderated by Faith Adiele, co-founder of MoAD’s African Book Club. The literary award program is in its second year. Three other authors were shortlisted for the 2023 award: Meron Hadero, Arinze Ifeakandu, ‍and Noor Naga. Haji Jabir and Okwiri Oduor received honorable mention. (11/20) | More


YINKA SHONIBARE, CBE, “Party Time: Reimagine America,” 2009 (mixed media), Installation view Dining Room, Ballantine House, Newark Museum. | Purchase 2010 Helen McMahon Brady Cutting Fund, 2010.5.1‑66. © Yinka Shonibare, CBE. Photo by Richard Goodbody


The Newark Museum of Art unveiled a $12 million renovation of its adjacent Ballantine House. Built in 1885, the mansion was home to the Ballantines, a family of beer makers. An annex to the museum, Ballantine House reopened on Nov. 17 with new installations, objects from the museum’s Decorative Arts collection, and period rooms that reflect “how under-appreciated strivers maneuvered in Newark society.” Many of the installations are by Black artists or relate to Black history, including “Party Time: Reimagine America” (2009) by Yinka Shonibare, an installation of headless mannequins wearing wax print clothing on view in the dining room; “Stay: The Black Women of 19th-Century Newark,” a portrait installation by Noelle Lorraine Williams in the main bedroom; and in another bedroom, a 1930s quilt made for Dorothy O. Smith, the first Black female podiatrist in New Jersey. (11/15) | New York Times

George Clinton is spreading the funk in Miami. On Dec. 7, the founder of Parliament-Funkadelic is performing at the Pérez Art Museum Miami’s invitation-only Miami Art Week party. Clinton is also showing his paintings at Gabriel Kilongo‘s Joopiter Contemporary in Miami (“George Clinton: Ruff,” opening Nov. 30) and Art Basel Miami Beach in Jeffrey Deitch’s booth. (11/20) | More


The Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) announced 2023 grants supporting a range of exhibitions at four U.S. art museums. The forthcoming projects include “Of Salt and Spirit” at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson (Winter 2024), a showcase of about 50 quilts designed to “illuminate the processes and practices of Black, southern, female quilters, demystifying cultural narratives that have been assigned to their artistry”; “Policing Justice” at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (February-May 2024), exploring “the situated histories leading up to the post-May 2020 protests in Portland from the intersecting perspectives of racial, environmental, spatial, and juvenile justice”; and “Bold Women+” at the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas (February-July 2025), presenting paintings, sculpture, textiles, metalwork, video, music video, and photography from the museum’s collection, with a lens toward understanding “how women and non-binary artists—especially those who are Black, Indigenous, and other people of color—have created change and advanced social justice. The American Folk Art Museum in New York, N.Y., is also receiving a grant for “Francesc Tosquelles: Avant-Garde Psychiatry and the Birth of Art Brut” (April 12-August 18, 2024). The ADAA Foundation annually invites small- and medium-sized museums with budgets up to $5 million to apply for research and development grants up to $10,000 for exhibitions, education programming, and community engagement. | More


ELIAS SIME, Installation view of “Roots,” John Hopkins University, Washington D.C., 2023. | © 2023 Johns Hopkins University. Courtesy the artist and John Hopkins University. Photo by Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins University

Public Art

Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University took over the Newseum building, opening a new academic center in Washington, D.C., complete with new artist commissions by Sandra Cinto, Sam Gilliam, Elias Sime, and Shahzia Sikander. The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center houses the School of Advanced International Studies, Carey Business School, the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Peabody Institute, and the newly established School of Government and Policy. Gilliam’s “A Lovely Blue And !” was completed months before his death in 2022. “Roots” by Sime is composed of recycled electronic parts woven and intertwined to form textile patterns. Measuring more than 2,000 square feet, the installation surrounds the exterior of the theater and is described as the Ethiopian artist’s “most ambitious work to date.” (10/18) | More

More News

Two nonprofits, Art At a Time Like This and SaveArtSpace, said Clear Channel Outdoor censored their “8×5 Houston” billboard exhibition. Featuring works by 10 artists, including Mel Chin, Jared Owens, Faylita Hicks, and Trenton Doyle Hancock, the project is critical of the Texas prison system. The nonprofits said after negotiating the terms of displaying the works on billboards owned by Clear Channel Outdoor, the company backed out of the agreement and declined to install the works. The nonprofits found alternative locations for the exhibition. (11/13) | Artnet News


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