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


Kwesi Botchway (b. 1994) is now represented by Vielmetter Los Angeles. Botchway is known for his stylized portraits of contemporary African people, bold and colorful depictions grounded in community and culture. The striking paintings celebrate “beauty, vitality, and expansiveness in relation to Blackness.” Born in Accra, Ghana, where he continues to live and work, the artist’s academic background includes Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra and the Academy of Visual Arts in Frankfurt, Germany. Botchway’s engagement with Vielmetter began earlier this year when the gallery presented “Kwesi Botchway: There’s More Than What the Eye Witnesses” (May 13-June 24), his first solo show in the United States. The exhibition featured 18 new paintings and an installation exploring the Black gaze and showcasing his signature treatment of Black skin using “deep black undertones and winding purple brushstrokes which rest atop the skin akin to tattoos,…” (12/23) | More

IMAGE: Above right, KWESI BOTCHWAY, “Elizabeth Okine,” 2023 (oil on canvas, 36 ¹⁄₂ x 35 x 2 ¹⁄₄ inches, framed). | © Kwesi Botchway, Courtesy the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles


Roslyn Adele Walker, senior curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), is departing the museum after two decades. Upon her retirement, Walker has been named Curator Emerita at the Dallas Museum of Art. The distinction recognizes her half-century museum career, including profound contributions at DMA, where she began working in 2003. During her tenure, Walker has acquired nearly 400 works of art, published “The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art” (2009), and oversaw the renovation and reinstallation of DMA’s Africa galleries in 2016. Over the course of her career, she curated approximately 40 exhibitions. The news comes after DMA’s late October announcement that it was laying off 8 percent of its staff and closing to the public on Tuesdays. (12/7) | More

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced five new members of its board of trustees, including artist Jordan Casteel, whose work is represented in the Met’s collection, and Steve Stoute. A former executive at Interscope Geffen A&M and Sony Music, Stoute is the founder and CEO of Translation and UnitedMasters, and author of “The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy.” They were elected at a Dec. 11, meeting of the board and will serve as Borough Trustees. (12/12) | More

Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, N.Y. announced five new trustees, including Ejim Achi, co-chair of the private equity practice at Greenberg Traurig, and Donville Reid, a managing director at UBS, where he is a senior fixed-income sales professional. (12/8) | More



Mandy Harris Williams, a classroom teacher-turned-multimedia artist and internet intellectual, appears on the cover of the Fall 2023 edition of X-TRA magazine (Volume 25, Number 2). Inside, she is interviewed about her work by Ideal Black Female, an AI chatbot. (Ideal Black Female is also her social media identity.) The conversation is an artist project titled “Ideal Indeterminate.” Founded in 2002, Los Angeles-based X-TRA is a contemporary art journal known for publishing artist’s projects. The magazine is discontinuing after this issue, due to “significant financial and organizational challenges.” | More


For the first time since it opened in 1988, the Tenement Museum will feature a permanent exhibition recreating the apartment of a Black family. Housed in an old tenement building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Tenement Museum explores the stories of immigrant, migrant, and refugee working-class residents through the spaces they called home in the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum has focused on families that hailed from Europe and lived in the Orchard Street building. “A Union of Hope,” documents the lives of husband and wife Joseph and Rachel Moore, a coachman and a housekeeper, who lived in a two-room, tenement apartment in Soho for at least six years, between the 1860s and 1870s. See video at bottom of page (12/19) | New York Times

Awards & Honors

Dindga McCannon, Steffani Jemison, Erika Ranee, Cauleen Smith, and Saya Woolfalk are among the recipients of 2023 Anonymous Was a Woman (AWAW) awards. Established 1996, the donor funding the awards remained a mystery for more than two decades. In 2018, artist Susan Unterberg revealed herself to be the founder and donor. AWAW awards support women-identifying artists over 40. Each year, 10 artists each receive an unrestricted grant of $25,000. Five additional artists were recognized this year thanks to the generosity of an anonymous Boston-based philanthropist and a second donor who also prefers to go unnamed. (12/14) | More

Artist vanessa german is the inaugural Joyce Foundation Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry. The opportunity includes a residency, exhibition, and teaching component. german will be in residence beginning in January, producing a new body of work that will be presented in her first solo museum exhibition in Chicago. During her tenure at the University of Chicago, she will co-teach a course (Paraäcademia — Art, Spirituality, and Social Healing) with the Gray Center’s Zachary Cahill, who is co-curating the exhibition. (12/14) | More


More News

Gee’s Bend quilters Mary Lee Bendolph and her daughter Essie Bendolph Pettway are working directly with Souls Grown Deep Foundation to have their remaining quilts, more than 100 artworks, placed with major collections. The news was announced Dec. 13. Since 2016, Souls Grown Deep has entered into purchase/gift arrangements with an array of U.S. museums and the Tate in London that have added Gee’s Bend quilts to their collection. The formidable effort amounts to 175 quilts by 76 quilt makers (including 16 by Mary Lee Bendolph), now represented in 34 museums, according to the foundation. Mary Lee’s work has also been featured in major exhibitions, including “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” (2002-2008), the traveling exhibition that first shined a broad light on women quilt artists from the Alabama community, and several other notable shows at institutions including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Royal Academy of Art in London. Mary Lee, Essie, and Rubin Bendolph (Mary Lee’s son) entered into the new arrangement with Souls Grown Deep, which includes 49 quilts by Mary Lee and 56 by Essie. No specifics were given about the financial split of any sales, but the announcement did cite the general arrangement: “The majority of proceeds from the sale of their quilts will benefit the artists directly, together with a percentage earned through Souls Grown Deep’s Resale Royalty Award Program.” (12/20) | ArtDaily

IMAGE: Above right, MARY LEE BENDOLPH, “Strings,” 2008 (Cotton, corduroy and denim, 87 x 93 inches). | © Mary Lee Bendolph/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio


UPDATE (01/05/24): GEE’S BEND QUILT ARTISTS: Rubin Bendolph was incorrectly described as “Essie Lee’s” son. He is in fact Mary Lee’s son.


For the first time since it opened in 1988, the Tenement Museum features a permanent exhibition recreating the apartment of a Black family. Museum curators and educators share how they discovered the Moores, researched their lives, and created an exhibit dedicated to telling their unique New York story. | Video by Tenement Museum


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