Monday, November 16, 2009

Transformations: New Directions in Black Art

In the last weeks of October I attended a conference that was so awesome I am still reeling from the experience. Just check out the panelists alone. Derrick Adams, curatorial director of Rush Arts Gallery & Resource Center, New York; Dawoud Bey, photographer; Willie Birch painter, sculptor, and educator, New Orleans; Berrisford Boothe, painter and digital artist, Lehigh University; Iona Rozeal Brown, painter whose works are inspired by ganguro fashion, Washington; Rashida Bumbray, assistant curator, The Kitchen, New York; Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, interdisciplinary artist, Massachusetts College of Art (she didn't make it); Sonya Clark, fiber artist, Virginia Commonwealth University; Brett Cook, public and collaborative artist, Disney; Sandra Jackson-Dumont, adjunct curator and deputy director of Education & Public Programs, Seattle Art Museum; Maren Hassinger, sculptor and director of MICA's Rinehart School of Sculpture (she is uber fierce!); David Huffman, artist and Afro-futurist, San Francisco; Ulysses Jenkins, performance artist, Los Angeles; Lauren Kelley '97, mixed media artist, AIR/Studio Museum in Harlem; Philip Mallory Jones, multi-media artist, Ohio University; Stephen Marc, photographer, Arizona State University; Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid, editor of Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture; Aminah Robinson, fiber artist and 2004 MacArthur Fellow, Columbus, Ohio; Deirdre Scott, director of technology, Studio Museum, New York; Joyce Scott, multimedia artist, Baltimore; Dr. Lowery Sims, curator, Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Franklin Sirmans, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Menil Collection, Houston (he's coming to LA in the Winter); Dr. David Terry, executive director of Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, Baltimore; Randi Vega, Director of Cultural Affairs for Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA); Dr. Ben Vinson, director, Center for Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University; Kara Walker, internationally renowned artist and 1997 MacArthur Fellow, New York(she didn't make it); Dr. Deborah Willis, art photographer, historian of African American photography, and 2001 MacArthur Fellow, New York; Saya Woolfalk, experimental multi-media artist, New York (phenomenal).

OK, that alone is a mouthful. I was surrounded by the top of the top Black art intelligentsia in America. What a pleasure and exciting opportunity it was for everyone to have this chance to meet and mingle. The panel discussions were so in tuned to the questions that most artist are asking these days. But this conference was designed and organized by Dr. Leslie King Hammond for about the Black experience and she outdid herself. This is the way she broke the panel discussions down:

"Art and Craft: Closing the Gaps", "Technology and the Arts: Accessibility in the Marketplace",
"Genius Factor Vs. Star Power", "Popular Culture: New Genres and Cross Over", "The Artist, the Institution and the Community: Redefining a Relationship", "Brave New Worlds: Globalism, Ethnicity and Nationalism". What all these sessions meant to emerging and established artists as well as museum and gallery directors was enormous. I can't go into detail about all that was said, suffice it to say, the entire event was educational, spiritual, informative, supportive, welcoming, exciting and super mind blowing. I can hardly wait for next years event. I just hope that it will be on the west coast.

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