Above: Najma Ahmed. Photo: Valentin B. Giacobetti
This Week in Black Art and Culture is sponsored by The Children’s Trust
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art appoints David Huffman and Carrie Mae Weems as the newest Artist Trustees to the museum’s board. Miami’s Worldcenter brings in Nina Chanel Abney to create murals. The 2022 Grammys feature many intriguing highlights. Najma Ahmed is chosen Miss Vogue by Vogue France, making her the magazine’s first hijabi feature model. Read more for details in this week’s Black art and culture.
SFMOMA Names New Artist Trustees
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has named David Huffman and Carrie Mae Weems to its board as the museum’s newest Artist Trustees. Artist Trustees represent the artist community on the board of SFMOMA and advise the museum and its leadership. The collection of new trustees brings a diverse range of talents and experience to the board and a solid commitment to the arts, education and community participation.
For the past two decades, Weems has been connected with the museum and the Bay Area. The National Museum of Women in the Arts held her solo show at the institution in 1993, and she has nine pieces and four pledged donations in the museum’s collection, the first of which was purchased in 1992. Weems received one of the inaugural Medals of Arts from the United States Department of State in appreciation of her dedication to the department’s Art in Embassies program. Weems was appointed a MacArthur Fellow and earned the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.
She also has earned a number of other honors, scholarships and fellowships, including the Prix de Roma and the National Endowment for the Arts Award. In 2019, SFMOMA commissioned Huffman to create a major work, Rise, for the Chase Center, now permanently on view in its east lobby.
Miami Worldcenter Reveals $5 Million Public Art Project
Miami Worldcenter, a 27-acre, $4 billion complex dedicated to hotels, condominiums, workplaces and retail space, has revealed a $5 million public art effort, with Nina Chanel Abney creating the debut piece. Jeffrey Deitch, curator and art dealer, and the team at Primary, a Miami-based curatorial collective, are in charge of the program.
By participating in the second largest of such urban development projects in the United States, after New York’s Hudson Yards, art dealer Jeffrey Deitch and Primary—who have been developing exhibitions and pop-ups in Miami for a while—are focused on making Miami the center of the newfound interest in spaces that are not only eclectic in opportunities but also in design.
“I created pictorial language to tell an imagined narrative that investigates community renewals and removals,” Abney said. “The mural location, a tunnel formed by the dark passageway under the building, inspired me to consider the legacy of preserving sacred spaces with story. I hope to spark a dialogue around gentrification and encourage a curiosity amongst viewers to engage with and learn about the previous and adjacent neighborhoods.”
It is led by an art advisory committee of cultural professionals that includes Franklin Sirmans, director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Nicholas Baume, director and chief curator of the Public Art Fund, and Cecilia Alemani, director and chief curator of High Line Art in New York and artistic director of the 2022 Venice Biennale. Aside from Abney’s mural, Worldcenter has commissioned designer, sculptor, and performance artist Nick Cave, Miami-based artists Viktor El-Saieh and Woody De Othello, as well as Texas-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock to produce new work for the complex. Worldcenter plans to reveal two more large-scale artworks this year, with more information to come.
65th Grammy Awards Feature Incredible Performances and Winners
The 64th Grammy Awards were held on Sunday, and both the premiere and main ceremonies included incredible performances and awards. Trevor Noah, the anchor of The Daily Show, hosted the main ceremony for the second time. The premiere ceremony, hosted by LeVar Burton, included more than 70 awards.
Allison Russell performed Nightflyer as the opening act at the premiere event. Jimmy Allen expressed his satisfaction as a Black entertainer performing as a now-mainstream country artist and then sang his song Down Home. Curtis Stewart and Ledisi sang Isn’t She Lovely and Me Quitte Pas (Don’t Leave Me).
AWARDS PRESENTED TO BLACK ARTISTS: Jon Batiste won five awards, including Album of the Year for We Are. With 11 nominations, he won Album of the Year, Best Music Video, American Roots Performance and Song, and Best Score for Visual Media for Soul (tied with Carlos Rafael Rivera’s score for The Queen’s Gambit). Best Spoken Word Album went to Don Cheadle for Generation/.
Best R&B Album went to Jazmine Sullivan for Heaux Tales, her second Grammy of the night, previously tying for Best R&B Performance with Silk Sonic’s Leave the Door Open for Pick Up Your Feelings, ending her 15-nominations ”curse.” Silk Sonic actually won four awards, including the aforementioned Best R&B Performance in addition to Record of the Year, Best R&B Song and Song of the Year for Leave the Door Open. Best Music Film went to recent Oscar winner Questlove for Summer of Soul.
Here are the remaining Black winners, list courtesy of Black Information Network:
- Best Traditional R&B Performance: H.E.R., “Fight for You”
- Best Progressive R&B Album: Lucky Daye, Table for Two
- Best Melodic Rap Performance: Kanye West, The Weeknd, & Lil Baby, Hurricane
- Best Rap Song, Songwriter’s Award: Kanye West & JAY-Z, Jail
- Best Rap Album: Tyler the Creator, Call Me If You Get Lost
- Best Jazz Vocal Album: Esperanza Spaulding, Songwrights Apothecary Lab
- Global Music Album: Angélique Kidjo, Mother Nature
- Dance/Electronic Album: Black Coffee
- Gospel Album: CeCe Winans, Believe for It
- Contemporary Blues Album: Christone Ingram, 662
- Contemporary Christian Music Album: Maverick City Music, Old Church Basement Compilation
- Soundtrack for Visual Media: Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
- Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song: CeCe Winans, Believe for It
- Large Jazz Ensemble Album: Christian McBridge Big Band, For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver
- Gospel Performance/ Song: Cece Winans, Never Lost
- Best Rap Performance: Baby Keem featuring Kendrick Lamar, Family Ties
- Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: Doja Cat featuring SZA, Kiss Me More
Najma Ahmed Named Miss Vogue
Najma Ahmed has been named Miss Vogue, becoming Vogue Frances’ first hijabi feature model. Speaking with Jade Simon for the publication, she cites her fashion influences as the Olsen twins, David Bowie and Vivienne Westwood.
Ahmed grew up in Landskrona, a small town in southern Sweden, and said, “It was sometimes difficult growing up in a small town when you are a black Muslim woman.” But her family, in particular her parents, encouraged her to embrace what many saw as eclectic fashion. As a teenager, she discovered Audrey Hepburn on screen in Funny Face and says the connection was kismet, promising to herself to one day live in Paris.
In 2019, she began studying fashion marketing at the IFA (International Fashion Academy). She lives in Montmartre and has accumulated around 20,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok. Ahmed’s social media presence follows the lengthy and tumultuous relationship that the French nation has had with Muslim women wearing headscarves.
In 2011, France became the first country in Europe to outlaw any face-covering apparel in public places, including balaclavas, masks, burqas and niqabs. Earlier this year, the magazine posted an Instagram caption that praised Julia Fox (a white woman) for wearing a headscarf, while Muslim women face Islamaphobia constantly in France.
Hanan Houachmi, a French-Moroccan model and activist told CNN the hijab had been “reduced to just a simple accessory,” while it is an integral, yet constantly disputed part of the lives of followers of Islam. Najma Ahmed continues to thrive despite the legislative activities that deny her the right to wear the hijab, and she doesn’t plan on stopping at just modeling, “I have always kept newspapers, I love fashion,” Ahmed said. “Becoming an editor would be the combo of my dreams.”
-Compiled by Sumaiyah E. Wade