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

Tate Britain Commission – Alvaro Barrington: GRACE. | Photo © Tate, Photo by Seraphina Neville


Alvaro Barrington’s Tate Commission Celebrates Black Women
In London, Alvaro Barrington (b. 1983) unveiled “Grace,” his new Tate Commission at Tate Britain. Featuring sound, sculpture, and painting, the site-specific installation pays homage to the grace of his grandmother Frederica, mother Emelda, and Samantha, a sister figure and close friend of the artist. The project reflects Barrington’s experiences, including early years in Grenada, where he recalls seeking refuge from a rainstorm in his grandmother’s home; living in New York from the age of 8; and the colorful, celebratory nature of Caribbean carnival culture. “Grace” features new music by several artists and an array of elements and artworks contributed by Barrington’s longstanding collaborator Theresa Ferrell. The commission’s central work is a large, figurative sculpture based on Samantha, who teamed up with the artist to produce the work, which includes jewelry by L’ENCHANTEUR, a costume by Jawara Alleyne, and nails by Mica Hendricks. Barrington said the installation was “the constant reimagining of Black culture and aspirational attitude under foreign conditions.” (5/29) | More


Oliver Lee Jackson, 2023. | Photo by M. Lee Fatherree, Courtesy Lisson Gallery


Oliver Lee Jackson Has New Representation
Painter, sculptor, and printmaker Oliver Lee Jackson (b. 1935) joined Lisson Gallery, which has locations in London, New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai and Beijing. Lisson will feature Jackson’s work at Art Basel in Switzerland this month (June 13-16) and present its first solo show with the artist in London in November. Describing his work, the gallery said Jackson “has long engaged in freeing form and matter from the strictures and false oppositions between figuration and abstraction” and “cites influence from both African and European art traditions to feed his gestural representations that suggest a timeless, bodily flow of life force, memory and atmosphere.” Last year, Jackson received the Lee Krasner Award from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Recent solo museum exhibitions dedicated to the artist were on view at the Saint Louis Art Museum (2021-22) and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (2019). Lisson is representing Jackson in collaboration with Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York and BLUM in Los Angeles. Jackson lives and works in Oakland, Calif. (5/8) | More



Art Institute of Chicago Hired New Human Resources Official
The Art Institute of Chicago appointed Toyia K. Stewart (right) vice president of Human Resources, People and Culture. Stewart brings more than 25 years of human resources experience, including employee and labor relations and diversity programs. Most recently, she served as vice president and chief human resources officer at Roosevelt University in Chicago. “We are thrilled to add Toyia’s leadership to our institution,” said Denise Banks, chief human resources officer at the Art Institute of Chicago. “Her culture-building experience combined with her integrity and commitment to diversity and people-centered management make her a wonderful addition to our museum.” Stewart started at the Art Institute in March. (5/24) | More

IMAGE: Above right, Toyia K. Stewart. | Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago


Detroit Hosting First LGBTQ+ Biennial
After organizing its first exhibition in 2022, showcasing artists from Detroit and the surrounding region, Mighty Real/Queer Detroit expanded the show and launched what the nonprofit describes as the world’s first biennial exhibition devoted to LGBTQ+ art. Staged in 11 galleries around Detroit, the biennial is titled I’ll Be Your Mirror: Reflections of the Contemporary Queer. Coinciding with Pride Month (June), the biennial is open May 31-June 30 and features 800+ works by a diverse slate of more than 180 local, national, and international artists, according to MR/QD. Alvin Baltrop (1948-2004), Christopher Cushman, Lola Flash, Lyle Ashton Harris, Clifford Prince King, Pamela Sneed, and late Detroit artist LeRoy Foster (1925-1993), are among those whose work will be on view. Most of the art is for sale. (5/28) | Art Newspaper


Harlem Designer Dapper Dan is working with Sherwin Williams to promote Kingdom Gold, its least popular paint color, sharing his vision for how the hue brings life to interiors and fashion. | Video by Sherwin Williams


Dapper Dan is Promoting ‘Kingdom Gold’ Paint
Pantone and many other companies annually announce a favored color of the year, a forecast expected to influence design and product trends. With the help of Dapper Dan, Sherwin Williams is bringing attention to one of its least-popular colors: Kingdom Gold. The Harlem designer celebrated for putting his own twist on logo-forward, European luxury fashion brands has added the paint company to his list of collaborators, which also includes Gucci, Puma, and Gap. His latest role is first-ever creative director of Sherwin Williams’s Loneliest Color. “Something I’ve learned throughout my career, Dan said, “is the power of staying true to our individuality and not conforming to what’s agreeable. In design and fashion, every color has the potential to tell a story, change perspectives, and inspire us—it’s about staying present so you can discover, or sometimes rediscover, beauty in places you may have initially overlooked.” (4/4) | More



Alvaro Barrington Covers Apollo Magazine
The work of Alvaro Barrington illustrates the cover of the May issue of London-based Apollo magazine. Inside, a profile captured Barrington in his studio in advance of the production of his Tate Commission, which opened May 29. Located on Whitechapel Road, the studio is “a sprawling affair that takes up two buildings of a decommissioned school.” When the writer Michael Delgado visited, Barrington had been up all night. The artist said he regularly sleeps at his studio and if he could be there 24/7, he would be. During the visit, eight people were working in the building, which includes a wood work studio, sewing studio, and painting studio. Barrington’s parents are of Haitian and Grenadian descent. The artist was born in Venezuela, grew up in Grenada and New York, and today is based in London and New York. The feature explores how he defines art, how he works, and his views on being influenced by and borrowing from other artists. “I never considered art in the way that we think of it in the art world until much later, but 30 years ago I was a kid in my neighbourhood customising people’s clothes […] people would come to me because they got a pair of sneakers and they wanted them to look different […] I think that was art,” Barrington said in the article. He received an MFA from The Slade School of Art in London and earned a BFA at Hunter College in New York, which he described as a “gladiator style” art school. His professors at Hunter included artists Nari Ward and Daniel Bozhkov, who Barrington said offered their “extremely strong opinions about what art is, and I got to listen to all these different voices and pick and choose what I would go along with.” (5/24) | Apollo Magazine


Philadephia Art School Closing This Week
Founded in 1876, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia is closing on June 7. The abrupt closure was reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 31 before staff and students were officially informed. Subsequently, a statement on UArts website explained that, “…like many institutions of higher learning, UArts has been in a fragile financial state, with many years of declining enrollments, declining revenues, and increasing expenses.” On June 1, the school’s board of trustees formally voted to approve the plan to close. In 1898, Julian Abele was the first African American to receive a degree in architecture from the school, then known as the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art. Alumni also include Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968), Allen R. Freelon (1895-1960), Claude Clark (1915-2001), Irving Penn (1917-2009), Paul F. Keene Jr. (1920-2009), Louise Fishman (1939-2021), Jerry Pinkney (1939-2021), Stanley Clarke, Ruth Fine, Judith Jamison, Deborah Willis, and Jayson Musson. “There’s so much love and respect for the faculty and the institution over the years,” Willis, a photographer, curator and professor at New York University told the New York Times. UArts is the second art school in the city that plans to shut down. Established in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is the first art school and museum in the United States. In January, PAFA announced its school would close at the end of the 2024-25 academic year. The museum will remain open. (6/2) | New York Times


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