Art Race Matters

Black History Museum Opening This Fall in Little Rock

Arkansas’s Mosaic Templars Cultural Center opens this September on the site of the Mosaic Templars of America, a fraternal organization founded by two former slaves, according to the AP.

“It’s everyone’s history. It’s everyone’s center,” director Constance Sarto said of the museum which is honoring African-American heritage.

The four-story building, which is located at what used to be the black business district of Little Rock, is another in a line of recent museums dedicated to African American history. (The Smithsonian Institution is also opening the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2015).

Admission to the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center will be free year-round.


Read More
Art Race Matters

Black Hands, Blue Seas Exhibit Reveals African American’s Nautical History

An exhibit exploring African American contributions to the nation’s maritime history opens at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. “Black Hands, Blue Seas: The Untold Maritime Stories of African Americans” features art, artifacts and documents, chronicling the origins of black maritime tradition which begins with boat-building traditions in Africa.

The exhibit sheds light on the often overlooked roles that African Americans played as fishermen, stevedores, merchant mariners, Coast Guard lifesavers, sailors and captains.

A few interesting facts learned at the exhibit: the abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass escaped slavery disguised as a sailor; wealthy captain and ship owner Paul Cuffee sponsored voyages taking freed slaves back to Africa; and escaped slave William B. Gould served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.

The exhibit originated in Connecticut’s Mystic Harbor and will be in Philadelphia for a year before traveling to the next port.

Read More
Art Broadway

Blindie’s Tears: India.Arie’s Broadway Debut Postponed

Due to the loss of one of the production’s backers, India.Arie’s Broadway debut in the revival of Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” has been postponed, according to the AP.

The play, a revival of the Tony-nominated play about seven women of color from the African Diaspora, is being produced by Whoopi Goldberg and DreamTeam Entertainment Group, and was set to have opened Sept. 8 at Circle in the Square.

PHOTO: India.Arie

Read More
Art Fashion Media Models Naomi Campbell Race Matters

Fashion Photographer Nick Knight Tackles Racism With Naomi Campbell

Renowned fashion photographer Nick Knight has created an experimental video featuring a machine gun-toting Naomi Campbell, two Rodarte dresses, a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes and title cards that silently express his outrage at the fashion industry’s systemized racism.

Excerpts from the video read:

I am virtually never allowed to photograph black models for the magazines, fashion houses, cosmetic brands, perfume companies and advertising clients I work for.

Whenever I ask to use a black model I am given excuses such as “Black models are not aspirational in some markets” or “they do not reflect the brands values,” normally, however, no reason is given.

By my own inaction, I am guilty of allowing racism to be normalized and accepted in this business. This has made me deeply sad and increasingly angry.

Fashion is often seen as frivolous but this is not a trivial issue. It is my belief that our society must be inclusive and by denying people the right to be seen as beautiful you cause deep cultural resentment, alienation and division.

PHOTO: Nick Knight/

Read More
Africa Art Europe

‘Rubens To Dumas: Black Is Beautiful’ Exhibit Opens In Amsterdam

“Rubens To Dumas: Black Is Beautiful,” an exhibition of 135 paintings, drawings, and manuscripts focusing on the changing role of black people in Dutch art and culture over seven centuries, opened this weekend at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.

The exhibit takes a look at the “fascination” many artists have had with black people, presenting works by Dutch and international artists, including Rembrandt, Rubens, and Dumas.

Reflecting the exaltation and victimization of blacks through the years, the show is divided into three sections: The Old World, where the Moors of Europe, “The Black King” and the Aethiopes or Ethiopians of classical mythology are explored; the New World, where the African continent and blacks as victims of slavery come into play; and the Modern World, where new art movements like Cubism, and Surrealism explore the jazz culture that swept through Europe.

The exhibition was curated by art historian Esther Schreuder.

PHOTO: “Sibylle Agrippina” by Jan van der Hoecke; “On The Terrace” by Nola Hatterman

Read More
Art Deaths

Harold D. Russell, St. Louis’ First African American Magician Dies

Harold D. Russell, dubbed “The Divine Mind,” died Monday from complications of pneumonia. He was 86.

Believed to be the first black magician to join the prestigious International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians, Russell performed for 20 years, entertaining crowds at the “Breakfast with Santa” event at Dillard’s and many nightclubs in the St. Louis area.

In a 2005 interview with the St. Louis Journal, Russell described practicing his early tricks on Bullet, the family dog, saying “If he went to the wrong hand when I tried a disappearing trick, I’d think, ‘Hmm, I did it good because I fooled Bullet.”

A World War II veteran, Russell took up magic while in his 40s and married with five children. He received the Gold Medal Award from the Society of American Magicians in 2005, one of only seven magicians to receive the honor since its inception.

PHOTO: Wiley Price

Read More
Art Music

Gorillaz Journey To The Beijing Olympics

Gorillaz creators, Blur frontman Damon Albarn and original Tank Girl illustrator Jamie Hewlett, reinvented their virtual band of characters for the Chinese opera, Monkey: Journey To The West, which they’re now using to promote the BBC ‘s coverage of the Beijing Olympics.

After announcing in 2007 that Gorillaz wouldn’t be releasing anymore studio pop albums, Albarn and Hewlett adapted The Monkey King, an ancient Chinese story about a hyperactive ape who leads a revolt against heaven and achieves immortality.

The production, composed by Albarn, designed by Hewlitt and directed by Chen Shi-Zheng, is a mix of animations, live-action circus performances and Mandarin songs. It premiered to a standing ovation at the Manchester International Festival last summer and just re-opened at London’s Royal Opera House on Wednesday night.

An album based on the successful opera is already in the works and set to be released this summer.

BBC began airing the Olympics-inspired clip of Monkey: Journey To The West on Thursday and will broadcast it as the opening title sequence for their Beijing Olympics coverage.

Read More