Artists Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley to Paint Obama Portraits

      It’s a good week for contemporary artists of color. While the MacArthur Fellowship announcements kept me buoyed all week, the news that the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announcement was extra special. Michelle and Barack Obama have chosen Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley to paint their respective portraits which will be debuted by … Continue reading Artists Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley to Paint Obama Portraits

Poems and Portraits: Revealing and Reclaiming Blackness in Western Art

The cover of Robin Coste Lewis’ book, Voyage of the Sable Venus features a Harlem Renaissance era photo of a slim black woman standing on a sidewalk deep in thought. With one hand resting on her hip and the other cradling her chin, the woman is pondering what lies behind the glass window in front … Continue reading Poems and Portraits: Revealing and Reclaiming Blackness in Western Art

Kerry James Marshall’s Mastry Examines the Power of the Image

In 2008, artist Kerry James Marshall was the subject of an oral history interview with the Smithsonian Institute where he recalled his childhood memory of the Watts riots of 1965. He remembered hearing sirens and seeing smoke, miles away coming from where he used to live in Nickerson Gardens. Over the course of the afternoon … Continue reading Kerry James Marshall’s Mastry Examines the Power of the Image

Last Call! Signifying Form at the Landing Gallery

To signify means, “to make a sign or signal”.  In a NYT book review penned by professor John Wideman in 1988, the writer explains how the practice of “signifying” assumes a more nuanced connotation within the black community. “In black vernacular, Signifying is a sign that words cannot be trusted, that even the most literal utterance … Continue reading Last Call! Signifying Form at the Landing Gallery

Extreme Times Call for Extreme Heroines: Betye Saar at the Craft & Folk Art Museum

Wall color plays a specific role in Betye Saar’s latest exhibit at the Craft and Folk Museum in Los Angeles. The second floor gallery is painted in a soft shade of stone blue and in the world of laundry products, blue is a color reflector that makes whites appear whiter. The color has been a … Continue reading Extreme Times Call for Extreme Heroines: Betye Saar at the Craft & Folk Art Museum