The Metropolitan Museum of Art announces a new African art residency for its Michael C. Rockefeller Wing. Acclaimed ballet dancer Misty Copeland receives the 2023 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. The Migration Museum in London soon will exhibit a new installation by multidisciplinary visual artist EVEWRIGHT as part of this year’s Windrush 75 anniversary. The London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan announces plans for a landmark memorial in the capital for the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Read more in This Week in Black Art and Culture.
The Met Announces New African Art Residency for Rockefeller Wing
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced that its Michael C. Rockefeller Wing has been joined by Eileen Musundi—the head of exhibitions, director of antiquities, sites and monuments at the National Museums of Kenya since 2017—who has been appointed to a four-month residency program beginning March 2023.
“As work on the Museum’s new Africa galleries continues to reconceptualize and reframe the collection, significant research continues as we prepare the content that will deepen appreciation of works and immense cultural diversity of the region,” said Alisa LaGamma, Ceil and Michael E. Pulitzer Curator for African Art and curator-in-charge of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing. “We are thrilled to welcome Eileen Musundi to the department.”
Musundi will work closely with curators from the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing and various departments throughout the museum. Her residency will explore developing a proposal for a traveling loan exhibition of works from The Met collection to Nairobi as well as developing and leading a public education program, which will draw on her expertise in African textiles. The program will explore cultural legacies and identity in East Africa and the development of textile production and will be presented in conjunction with the education department. Titled Textiles and Identity in East Africa, it will take place on May 9.
“My firsthand experiences of living in East Africa and my studies and interests in the arts and culture of Africa have ultimately brought me here to New York and The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” said Musundi. “My time here will be very enriching for me and my institution, and I count this as one of the highlights of my career. I look forward to experiencing everything that this residency has to offer.”
Before her work at the National Museums of Kenya, Musundi worked since 2006 as an exhibition designer and developer.
During her tenure at the National Museums of Kenya, she has curated and been the lead designer for both permanent galleries and temporary exhibitions. Musundi assisted with the “Museum in Change” project, which involved redesigning and reinstalling sections of the Nairobi National Museum’s permanent collections between 2004 and 2008. More recently, she was the lead designer of the exhibitions Kanga Stories (2011), Currencies, Trade and Exchange (2016), and Omieri: Rebirth of a Legend (2018).
Musundi is currently the “principal investigator” for an exhibition, Kenya-Oman, and is involved in the design and planning of two new national museums in Kenya—a museum dedicated to historical figures in Kenyan history and Kenya’s first national gallery of art.
This residency is part of an ongoing commitment to incorporate contemporary voices and perspectives from the region in shaping the narratives that will be presented in the new galleries. Initiatives include a collaborative project with the World Monuments Fund (WMF) to create a digital resource devoted to highlighting notable cultural landmarks in sub-Saharan Africa and their caretakers that will be featured throughout the African Art galleries, and the appointment of Sosena Solomon, an award-winning social documentary film and multimedia visual artist from Ethiopia, to undertake the filming of sites and interviews with experts on the significance of the sites in those communities.
The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing is scheduled to reopen in spring 2025.
Misty Copeland Receives 2023 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award
Jacob’s Pillow has announced Misty Copeland as the recipient of the 2023 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. Copeland will accept this award at Jacob’s Pillow’s Season Opening Gala in the Berkshires in Massachusetts on Saturday, June 24.
The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award is presented each year to an artist of exceptional vision and achievement and carries a cash prize that the artist can use in any way they wish. Copeland has made history as a changemaker and phenomenon in the art of ballet; in 2015, she was the first African American woman promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. Copeland also has performed on Broadway. She was appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition in 2014 by former President Barack Obama.
Recognized for her philanthropic efforts and the dedication of her time to mentoring children, Copeland is a New York Times bestselling author, having published several books for adults and children. In 2022, she founded the Misty Copeland Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to bring greater diversity, equity, and inclusion to dance, especially ballet, by making ballet affordable, accessible and fun.
“We are honoring Misty for her immense artistry and achievement as one of this country’s premier ballerinas,” said Executive and Artistic Director Pamela Tatge. “We are also recognizing her work as an activist and change-maker. As the Pillow and our field as a whole seek to address systemic racism and the need for greater equity, inclusion and access in all aspects of our work, we are excited to honor one of this country’s greatest champions of expanding the ranks of who belongs in ballet on both sides of the footlights. Misty persevered when many would have given up. She has been such an astonishing role model for young dancers around the world, and it is truly thrilling to announce her as the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient this year.”
The award, presented each year to an artist of exceptional vision and achievement, carries a cash prize of $25,000, which the artist can use in any way they wish. Past honorees include Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Faye Driscoll, Liz Lerman, Camille A. Brown, Kyle Abraham, and Michelle Dorrance. In commemoration, the honoree also receives a custom-designed glass award sculpture by Berkshire-based artist Tom Patti, whose work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum and other major arts institutions around the world.
The remaining funds support the Pillow’s commitment to the research and development of new work in the recently launched Pillow Lab. Year-round residencies at the Pillow Lab offer free housing, unlimited use of studio space, and access to the Pillow’s rare and extensive archives and resources.
“I’m honored to be recognized by Jacob’s Pillow,” Copeland said. “This treasured team’s longstanding commitment to the arts and dance are perfectly aligned with my desire to bring this art form to as many people as possible. I look forward to celebrating with everyone at the Gala.”
In addition to the presentation of the award, performances at the Jacob’s Pillow Season Opening Gala will include The School at Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Ballet Performance Ensemble in a world premiere by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and other performers to be announced. In addition to in-person event tickets for the one-night-only performance, dinner and dancing, the Gala performance will be live-streamed and accessible through a “choose what you pay” model. To learn more about the Gala, visit https://www.jacobspillow.org/events/gala.
Migration Museum To Exhibit EVEWRIGHT as Part of Windrush 75 Anniversary
The Migration Museum, London, is exhibiting a new installation by multidisciplinary visual artist EVEWRIGHT as part of this year’s Windrush 75th anniversary celebrations, exploring the artist’s own perspectives on growing up in Lewisham as the child of parents from the Windrush generation.
According to The History Press, “On 21 June 1948, the former German cruise liner HMT Empire Windrush arrived in the U.K. at Tilbury Docks, Essex carrying passengers from the West Indies. The following day, in what has become a landmark in the history of modern Britain, Caribbean migrants from countries including Jamaica, Bermuda, Trinidad and British Guiana exited the Windrush and were among the first to be recruited to rebuild post-war Britain. Mainly former service personnel, this was the first wave of post-war immigration.”
Lewisham, in southeast London, always has been a place where migrants from all over the world, especially from the Caribbean, have gravitated since the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948. The area remains a hub for Caribbean communities: in the 2021 census, 10.8% of Lewisham residents identified as ”Black, Black British: Caribbean,” the highest proportion of any local authority in England and Wales, while a further 2.9% identified as “Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups: White and Black Caribbean.”
Lewisham: About Face, EVEWRIGHT’s new site-specific multimedia installation, reflects on the places and the forgotten heroes of Lewisham’s past and present who have shaped the artist’s life. It pays homage to his late mother, Clarice Reid, and the influences of his father, Lindon Wright. His brothers and sisters and other key local individuals also feature as part of a discourse of what it means to be Black and British today.
This project is a partnership between EVEWRIGHT Studio Productions and the Migration Museum and is supported using public funding by Arts Council England. The installation will be displayed from April 5 onwards in the windows of the Migration Museum in the heart of Lewisham Shopping Centre, a focal point for youth culture when the artist was growing up in the late 1970s and 1980s, which remains a popular community destination today.
Lewisham: About Face complements EVEWRIGHT’S acclaimed Tilbury Bridge Walkway of Memories site-specific art and sound installation on the walkway used by passengers when they disembarked from the Empire Windrush in Essex in 1948.
London To Open Memorial for Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has announced plans for a new memorial in the capital to honor the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and recognize London’s role in the trade itself. Ahead of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the mayor is committing £500,000 (U.S. $619,500) to develop a memorial in West India Quay in London Docklands. The area is home to warehouses that were built to receive the products of slavery—the only surviving buildings of their kind in the capital. West India Quay is also home to the Museum of London Docklands, whose London, Sugar and Slavery gallery includes an evolving exhibition dedicated to the history and legacies of the city’s involvement in the slave trade.
Khan said, “The impact of the slave trade has been felt by generations of Black communities in London, across Britain and around the world. Despite this, we do not have a dedicated memorial in our capital to honor the millions of enslaved people who suffered and died as a result of this barbaric practice.
“It is vital that our public spaces reflect the heritage of our great city—in all its diversity and complexity. This memorial will help commemorate the victims of a dark yet formative chapter of our history.”
The new memorial will be the first in the U.K. of its scale and profile to reflect enslaved people’s experiences and resistance. It will be located near the Museum of London Docklands and will be accompanied by a number of “satellite sites” that will connect with different stories of slavery across the capital. Through these satellite sites, the memorial will help bring the weight of this history and the legacy of the trade to life throughout the capital, the U.K. and the world. Working in partnership with the Museum of London Docklands, the Canal & River Trust, and many other community and heritage partners, there also will be an education program to tell a full picture of this vital chapter of London’s history.
The plan has been developed by the Mayor’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, which will continue to work with communities this summer as it develops an artistic brief for the memorial. This work will fulfill Sadiq’s manifesto pledge to support a memorial to the trans-Atlantic slave trade alongside educational programs related to the victims and their descendants in the city.