Recently the AIGA honored Emory Douglas with a Gold Medal; Douglas is best known for his political posters, and as the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party during the 60s’ through the 80s.’ In high school, I had a collection of Black Panther Newspapers—I kept them in my school locker, so I could quickly grab them to share with my classmates in art class. In looking back his highly charged graphic drawing profoundly influenced my art making and thinking in high school, and college. Douglas drawings also inspired the mindsets of numerous black artists and graphic designers during the height of the Black Power movement. featured on Hyperallergic by Allison Meier on June 9, 2015
“Art has relevancy, whether it’s to exploit you or pacify you, or to enlighten and inform you. It’s a language, that’s the power of it,” Emory Douglas, the artist who drove the graphic identity of the Black Panthers, says in a new short documentary. In just under eight minutes, Emory Douglas: The Art of The Black Panthers follows the 1966 rise of the black political group to its 1980s decline in the context of the newspaper and poster work by Douglas. (read more)
You will be moved by this new film, The Black Power Mixtape an award winning compilation feature documentary that displays the story of the African-American community 1967-1975, the people, the society and the style that fueled a change. Told with sparkling, beautiful and deep footage, lost in the archives in Sweden for 30 years. Check out the website for Screenings.
“Untangling the Naps” investigates the cultural and historical significance of the Afro, and how the afro is expressed today. I explore images of the Afro/’fro/Natural and how they were used to define blackness, racial pride, and ultimately, the black design aesthetic.
The themes for this work focus on identity, hair, blackness and power, ideas expressed in the statement by Robin D. G. Kelley, Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC College.
“No matter what we might think about culture and style as a terrain of struggle, hairstyle politics, particularly in the Black community, reveal a great deal about power—the power of white over black, men over women, employer over workers, state over citizens.” — By Robin D. G. Kelley, Nap Time: Historicizing the Afro
My field of enquiry is based on my long-term research into the black aesthetic influence on graphic design in the twentieth century. The title, “Untangling the Naps,” suggests how I have used the Afro as a graphic narrative, in the next phase of my quest to understand the black aesthetic. In my research I investigate the historical and cultural significance of the Afro in the past, and in its current expressions. I have also researched the struggles that describe the “politics of style,” and explore the images and signifiers of the Afro/’fro/Natural that are used to define blackness, racial pride, and the new black design aesthetic of hip. My objective is to illustrate the ways this natural hairstyle has been used as a significant graphic element in the black vernacular narrative and in social media to brand black hipness.
Architect Craig L. Wilkins, design scholar Carol Tulloch, and art historian Kymberly Pinder at the Parsons conference (photos by Jonathan Grassi, courtesy of Parsons
Last weekend March 26 Parsons School of Design presented Black Studies in Art and Design Education addressed arguably the the disproportionate number of students and faculty of color in Design Schools not just in the United States but across the globe in countries likes England, Canada and South Africa. This major event was organized by Coco Fusco and Yvonne Watson professors at Parsons School of Design. I was not only in attendance, but I also spoke on a panel addressing the troubling gap that persist within the classrooms of design and art schools. Bill Gaskin, of Parsons moderated my panel Curricular Reform in the Foundation and Advanced Studio Courses presenters included Janice Cheddie, from UK, Van Dyke Lewis from Canada, Mabel O. Wilson of Columbia University and myself. It was such an exhilarating experience for me to interface with some of the best black scholars in design, architecture, art history and fashion, it is not often that such opportunities happen in one setting. I must commend Coco Fusco and Yvonne Watsons for taking a strident position and challenging the needs for an overhaul in the academe of design and art schools which is seriously long overdue for revision. Many of the big design and art schools had major showing of faculty and administrators from Pratt Institute, Yale University and MICA.
As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education by By W. Ian Bourland
Although many of the themes discussed by panels composed of veteran educators and practitioners were not new, Black Studies was notable for its emphasis on concrete and pragmatic solutions for educators. The timing, moreover, could not be better: On the one hand, humanities and arts budgets within higher education have been roiled by recent economic challenges; on the other, the wider marketplace has capitalized on work by black and other minority practitioners during the past five years. The Phillips de Pury’s 2010 “Africa Auction” was highly lucrative for the auction house, and artists such as Glenn Ligon, Kara Walker, Yinka Shonibare, and Julie Mehretu have been the subject of marquee exhibitions in major global institutions, including the Whitney and Smithsonian museums.
Coming in March Black Studies in Art & Design Education Conference at the The New School
March 26th-27th 2011. Two Day Conference on interdisciplinary conference on Black Studies in Art and Design Education, featuring speakers from art, fashion. architecture, urban planning, art and design history and theory. Organised by Coco Fusco and Yvonne Watkins, Parsons The New School for Design, New York. Presenters include: Craig Wilkins, University of Michigan; Mabel Wilson, Columbia University; Noel Mayo, Ohio State; Carol Tulloch, Chelsea College of Art and Design; Jennifer Gonzales, North Carolina State University; Michele Y. Washington, School of Visual Arts; Kim Piner, School of the Arts Institute of Chicago; Noliwe Rooks, Princeton University; Clyde Johnson MICA are amongst the list of designers, cultural and design critics, and educators presenters.
The conference is intended to be a forum for reflection on the troubling gap between the notable significance of Black creativity in global culture and its lack of presence in art and design education. The goal of the conference is to elaborate and assess strategies of reform that would diversify curricular offerings and thus improve education for all art and design students while simultaneously generating a more supportive environment for Black students and faculty.
Scholars and practitioners in Fine Arts, Industrial Design, Fashion Design, Architecture, Urban Planning and Art and Design History and Theory will engage in an interdisciplinary discussion about the challenges involved in rethinking curriculum, engaging with historically disenfranchised communities, and recruiting and retaining Black students and faculty. The conference will also feature two keynote speeches by prominent members of the fields under figures whose efforts have been central to diversifying the many fields that comprise art and design studies. Panels will address the following topics: rethinking art and design theory and history courses in light of the global influence of cultures of the African diaspora; curricular reform in practical courses of art and design; strategies of engagement with black communities; Black student experiences in art and design schools; and the specific challenges of recruiting and retaining Black students and faculty in school of art and design.
Staged in the context of global economic insecurity, a planet gripped by the ravages of war and climate change, ever-increasing gaps in wealth, as well as rampant fundamentalism (East and West), “James Baldwin’s Global Imagination” is intended as an examination of globality not simply as a matter of demography but as an urgent call to re-consider the contemporary utility of Baldwin’s expansive injunction to William Faulkner (and, in fact, to us all), “[t]hat any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety.” These proceedings are thus proposed as an opportunity to take seriously Baldwin’s consistent and insistent proposal that categories of difference represent an early misnaming, a dangerous and cowardly misrecognition of the moral imagination required to confront not only our mortality but also the brutal legacies of our collective histories.
Confirmed plenary speakers, respondents, and musicians: M. Jacqui Alexander, University of Toronto Awam Amkpa, New York University Eshter Armah, journalist, playwright Rich Blint, New York University Marcellus Blount, Columbia University Nicholas Boggs, Columbia University Herb Boyd, Baldwin Biographer Jennifer Brody, Duke University
This coming spring make sure to check-out another spectacular symposium by the photographer/Historian Debra Willis, chair of the Photography department of New York University, she’s planned another informative two-day symposium. How she does I’ll never know, but I’m grateful for Debra Willis’s non-stop commitment in keeping the dialog of black visual culture in the forefront. The Beauty and Fashion: The Portrait Symposiumwill take place at New York University/Tisch School of the Arts in 02-03, April 2011. Presenters include a stellar group of black scholars, artist, cultural critics, curators and writers all in one setting to discuss what is sure to be an intellectually stimulating conversation on race, sex, gender and the body. And best of all it’s free.
For more information contact: POSINGBEAUTY2011@GMAIL.COM
by Michele Y. Washington Click to hear Ron Eglash’s presentation.
Our final keynote speaker brilliantly closed out GLIDE10 on his continuous investigation on Culture and Science in the sphere of indigenous and vernacular cultures existing within the United States ethnic communities such as Asian, Latin American and African American. Ron gives an in-depth explanation of global indigenous cultures to dispel numerous myths that exist of such groups as being backwards, primitive and illiterate. This raises several fundamental issues of cultural sensitivity, and he provides specific examples from one project featured on his website on the process of mapping out Native American asymmetrical and symmetrical beading systems. For another project you can sample an example of African Architectural typology replicated through the application of African Fractals, an organic branching structure referencing nature.
This African Fractals project offers clear cut examples of his teaching methods applied in the cultural significance of the ancestral origins of cornrows for Black American students in high schools. His goal was to challenge the students to investigate the issues that surrounded the Black Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Americas and Caribbean, students were able to identify hygiene, resistance, retaining ones culture identity linking their own cornrow hairstyles to its origins. Other examples of paring the musicality of Hip-hop provide a broader sensibility of the connection as to why they wear this hairstyle. He’s developed a computation where he feeds in various iterations of how many plaits are in one braid. According to Ron, such concepts can be applied to other ethnic groups to gain a better understanding of the ancestral heritage. The Cultural expression opens the door to engage students to consider the various modalities of the design patterns replicated by cornrow hairstyles, which blurs the line between indigenous and vernacular design. He also looks at graffiti as a form of vernacular stereotyping. Ends his talk on Puerto Rican youth rooted to challenge the students through mathematical computation of Spanish music through rhythms and beats of the music. Summary of what limits racial intelligence, he states, while no one wants to talk about it, the thoughts loom in the back of many educators and peoples mind.
What part of collective memory fuels some of this iconic bead work, rug design, totems that are also evident in other global cultures such as Africans, Aboriginal, India, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries?
Defeating myths of cultural determinism
Using mathematics to bridge cultural gaps
Making cultural capital more available to its owners (individuals) Educational capital
Looking at new forms of hybridity for learning Peace and social justice efforts Environmental sustainability
Making contributions to mathematics, and inspirations Challenges:
Not all modeling of culture involves translation of indigenous or vernacular knowledge. Ethnomath: provide more evidences of application of knowledge Interesting concept over cultural ownership of whose holds on to authentic cultural heritage for example, Shawnee Native Americans. Alternative methods for kids to go from consumers to producers, makers by apply the discovery as a learning method.
Black fashionista have taken there protest beyond the blogsphere to the street to voice the vehement dismay over the recent controversial hiring of a white fashion director, Ellianna Placas at Essence Magazine this past summer. The announcement stirred some old wounds and created a tidal wave backlash for Essence is known as a fertile training ground for many young black women seeking entry into the world of magazine fashion. Marc Baptiste well-known for his exciting fashion photography took his beliefs a step further when he captured the cultureversy on film of the fashionista protesting at this year’s Mercedes Benz during Spring/Summer 2011 Fashion Week. About 20 bodacious black women dressed in black with dark shades, slowly marched through the streets in silence from Time, Inc. the offices of Essence magazine to the new site of Fashion week at Lincoln Center. In the same spirit as Martin Luther King, who marched in the 1960s in Memphis with a group of Black garbage workers with picket signs reading (I Am a Man), these young women demonstrated using a similar signifer “I AM Fashion,” each individual sign identified former fashion editors of Essence such as Susan Taylor, Iona Dunn Lee, Harriette Coles and Micheala Angela Davis, this is just a short list of the fashion directors who have served over the years. At issue in this postracial society is while black women grace the covers of ELLE, VOGUE or BAZAAR magazines, few get have access to top positions as Fashion Directors in magazines or blogs. The likelihood is the storm will not cease and these sistas will be marching again when the Fall 2011 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week rolls around. To view Marc Baptiste film click on the Fashion Activism link above.
The State of African American Studies: Methodology, Pedagogy, and Research
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean at the City University of New York extend a call for papers for their regular conference on the state of scholarship in African American Studies. Entitled, The State of African American Studies: Methodology, Pedagogy, and Research, the conference will take place on January 6-8, 2011 at the Schomburg Center, located at 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, located at 365 Fifth Avenue. Complete panels and individual paper submissions related to the theme – broadly conceived – are invited from scholars and graduate students. In addition to papers in your academic areas of expertise, and on teaching and research methodologies, are particularly welcome submissions on labor, community engagement, gender, sexuality, visual culture, and relations in the Diaspora.
Proposals should be submitted electronically and must include your name, title of the paper, panel, or roundtable, and an abstract of 150 words. They should also include the institutional affiliation of each presenter, phone numbers, and email addresses. Submit proposals by November 1, 2010 to:
State of African American Studies
Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York NY 10037-1801 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please consult the Schomburg Center’s website for information on travel and hotels.
Registration $20, Students: Free