The Week In Black Art: September 20-September 25

Historic Emmy Wins

Photo Courtesy: Emmy Awards

On Sunday, Sept. 20, Black actors made history; their wins at the Emmy Awards were the most in a single year. Black awardees include Zendaya, Regina King, Uzo Abuda, Yahya Adul-Mateen II, Eddie Murphy, Maya Rudolph, RuPaul, Ron and Jasmine Cephas Jones. 

Beyond the number of awardees, history was made in specific categories and the number of awards held by individuals. At 24, Zendaya became the youngest to win lead actress in a drama series, and the second Black woman to have this award. Viola Davis holds the first win with her 2015 award for “How to Get Away With Murder.” Regina King’s Emmy win places her with Alfre Woodard for the most held by a Black performer. Ron Cephas Jones and Jasmine Cephas Jones became the first father and daughter to win in a single night, both taking home awards for their roles in “This Is Us” and “#FreeRayshawn” respectively. 

David Adjaye Previews New Princeton Art Museum


On Wednesday, Sept. 23, David Adjaye’s design firm Adjaye Associates revealed the renderings for their newest museum project, the Princeton University Museum of Art. Adjaye Associates is sought after for its conceptual designs and high-quality use of material for function and aesthetic form. Adjaye created the architecture for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and for the construction of the Studio Museum in Harlem’s new building set to open in 2022. 

Images for the Princeton University project are astounding; Adjaye Associates is developing a new building twice the current institution’s size. Adjaye’s designs reflect the museum’s intent to diversify the works on the walls; in his plans, we see patterns and architectural forms from across the globe. The museum’s images show that its spatial qualities will be airy and light, filled with windows for the natural environment to be seen. Spaces for dining, reading, and large exhibition areas for seated contemplation leave the museum’s availability to be a space of leisure, talk without disrupting guests, journaling and reflecting on exhibition materials. The construction for this building is set for 2021, with a completion date of 2024.

Parisian Activist Faces Court Date for Attempts of Collections’ Repatriation 

Image Courtesy: New York Times

On June 12, Mwazulu Diyabanza and four other activists bought a ticket to the Quai Branly Museum in Paris to make a public demonstration about colonialism and its remnants in museums, those remnants being artifacts either stolen or gifted from imperial ties. After the public remarks in the African art exhibition, Diyabanza attempted to leave the museum with a 19th-century funerary post from modern Chad or Sudan. Museum guards apprehended Diyabanza and other activists before they could exit. 

Given the museum setting, this act of repatriation also may be deemed performance art. On his ambitious commitment, Diyabanza says, “The fact that I had to pay my own money to see what had been taken by force, this heritage that belonged back home where I come from—that’s when the decision was made to take action.” 

Diyabanza is part of an activist group, Unité Dignité Courage. The Pan-African group “fights for the liberation and transformation of Africa.” The group’s digital visibility is primarily on Facebook, and its efforts toward liberation are widespread, including decolonizing museums. For them, the ownership of art is an essential movement toward the unraveling of colonial rule. 

After the attempted “theft,” Diyabanza spent three days in custody of Parisian authorities. On Sept. 30, Diyabanza appears in court, facing charges up to 10 years in prison and fines of €50,000. In July and August, Diyabanza conducted other repatriation acts at the Museum of African, Oceanic and Native American Arts and Afrika Museum. For these attempts, he faces November court dates. Diyabanza is clear in word and deed that he is committed to his cause. 

Recent Exhibition Openings 

Margaret Rose Vendryes | Igbo Billy – Billy Porter | 2020 | Photo Courtesy: Long Gallery

Nordstrom Partners with Black-Owned Long Gallery

On Sept. 17, STYLING: BLACK EXPRESSION, REBELLION, AND JOY THROUGH FASHION opened at Nordstrom’s first flagship store in New York. The exhibition is in partnership with Black-Owned, Harlem-based Long Gallery, known for its exhibitions in unconventional spaces. This exhibition celebrates the role of Black personal style and fashion movements in cultural remembrance and global influence. From the liberation found in Black church institutions and its suggested tailored, high-adorned uniforms, to the berets of the Black Panther Party, the exhibition covers a wide terrain of visual history.

Gallery founder Lewis Long shares, “In spite of oppression in the broader society, Black people were leaders and were completely free to express themselves in a grand way.” The freedom of expression is on display on West 57th Street and online at Artsy. Works from the exhibition are available for sale on Artsy, and proceeds support the Howard University Art Department. 

Jacolby Satterwhite at Michtell-Innes & Nash

Jacolby Satterwhite | We Are In Hell When We Hurt Each Other | neon, unique | 7-5/8 x 90 x 2-1/4 inches | 2020 |Photo Courtesy: Mitchell-Innes & Nash 

On Sept. 24, We Are In Hell When We Hurt Each Other, Jacolby Satterwhite’s first solo exhibition with Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery, opened in New York. The exhibition features new, large-scale, virtual reality installations and other mediums, including photography, sculpture and neon signage. For the last decade, Satterwhite has been producing video art, often based on arranging his and others’ bodies, creating movement that becomes animated. In this way, our conceptions of reality are merged with the digital realm. Satterwhite uses myriad references, including the works of his mother, Patrica. Patrica’s drawings are animated in his video works. 

The exhibition is on display through Oct. 29 by appointment only. 

Mitchell-Innes & Nash

534 W. 26th Street

New York, NY 10001

Compiled by Maleke Glee

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