In 1991, Claudine K. Brown visited Atlanta in search of African American artifacts and memorabilia that would go inside a future institution by the name of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Again her visit was in 1991. This article notes that in addition to viewing private collections, Ms. Brown also had plans to visit the Hammonds House, the Alonzo Herndon Home, APEX Museum, and Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. As Project Director, Ms. Brown’s Atlanta visit focused on meeting a deadline to determine if there were enough artifacts to fill a Black History museum. We all know the answer to that question now, don’t we?
A quick Google search reveals that Ms. Claudine K. Brown left the Smithsonian in the 1990s due to the institution’s failure to establish NMAAHC during that time, this shortcoming was influenced by political opposition from former U.S. Senator, the late James Helms, Jr. (NC).
Eventually, NMAAHC would open its doors to the public on September 24, 2016. Ms. Brown passed 5 months prior -March 27, 2016 (aged 67) 🕊
[source: news article on file at Kenan Research Center]
5 pictures captured while exploring “With Drawn Arms: Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith” at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.
The entire exhibition is housed in 4 rooms. Images 1-4 were photographed in the temporary exhibit room labeled the Tommie Smith Archives. Tommie Smith and wife Delois, are said to have amassed and archived thousands of artifacts related to his life and career. The High Museum currently has on display a selection of photographs, news clippings, awards, and other material culture.
The Tommie Smith Archives is dedicated to artifacts while the rest of the exhibit features the work of conceptual artist, Glenn Kaino. Each of Kaino’s designs are inspired by Tommie Smith, the living legend.
Image 1: commemorative item from 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
Image 2: Published letter written by Shirley Graham DuBois, addressed to Tommie Smith. Mrs. DuBois was the wife of W.E.B. DuBois. The letter was printed with her permission in a publication entitled The Black Panther.
Image 3: Track and Field equipment.
Image 4: Tommie Smith achieving a world record title during his time at San Jose State University.
Image 5: The Bridge a conceptual piece created by Glenn Kaino. The 100 foot serpentine bridge is comprised of gold painted casts of Tommie Smith’s arm. There is a great amount of symbolism in this piece including it representing a “path connected to the past that leads forward to the present.”
[photo courtesy of the Kavi Gupta Gallery/Glenn Kaino/High Museum of Art]
Visiting Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, next week. Going to check out “With Drawn Arms”
The temporary exhibit will be on view until February 3rd, 2019.
Have you seen it yet? Share your thoughts.
This #MuseumMerchandiseMonday is dedicated to Augusta, Georgia’s Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History & Conference Center. Pictured are a couple pages from the museum’s activity & coloring book.
The small house museum opened in 1991 and is the only African American museum in the Central Savannah River Area. It is located in the Historic Laney-Walker District and promotes “the legacy of Miss Lucy Craft Laney through art, history and the preservation of her home.” Miss Laney started the first kindergarten class for black children in Augusta and founded the Lamar School of Nursing for black women.
Also pictured in this post are images of promotional material for past exhibitions held at the museum and conference center.
Current events and other information can be found on the museum’s website Lucycraftlaneymuseum.com or by calling 706-724-3576.
Opening night of “Black Metropolis: 30 Years of Afrofuturism, Comics, Music, Animation, Decapitated Chickens, Heroes, Villains and Negroes” took place at the Hammonds House Museum on Friday October 12, 2018. That evening Afrofuturist and visual artist, Tim Fielder, engaged in an artist talk.
Pictured above are a few notes taken during Tim Fielder’s artist talk. I will get back to this shortly, but first I want to offer a few thoughts developed after examining the Black Metropolis exhibit.
In the brochure pictured on the right, Tim Fielder provides an exhibit manifesto. He describes BLACK METROPOLIS as an “emotional ideal, not necessarily the physical construct…where Black people can be anything or anyone they choose.”
Fielder has developed a series of Black sci-fi superheroes to convey stories of empowerment or as Fielder expressed in his artist talk – “BLACK Ben Hurs”. Fielder considers himself an afroturism visual artist. His graphic designs and excerpts from his written work are currently on display at the Hammonds House Museum.
For me, the most interesting part of the exhibit is the context described on the exhibit labels. Fielder describes the highs and lows of his career. Examples of this includes the time he produced visuals and a story for the now defunct Marvel Music. Dr. Dre: Man With a Cold Heart featured rap pioneer Dr. Dre. When Marvel Comics declared bankruptcy the material was never published. Luckily, visitors can view this work at the Hammonds House museum.
Tim Fielder completed studies in New York at The School of Visual Arts. During that time he worked as a freelance editorial cartoonist for Village Voice. He also produced promotional material for entertainment venues.
A booklet titled Death Comes in Fours hangs near the “Alternative Cartooning” exhibit label. The last few pages are dedicated to advertisements. There you will see that members of the Fielder family once had a business operation in Georgia’s South DeKalb Mall.
Death Comes in Fours features characters inspired by Yoruba diety.
BLACK METROPOLIS exhibits 30 years of Tim Fielder’s work. In many ways, Fielder’s artist talk was something like an Afrofuturism 101. Below are a few notes taken during that discussion:
- Terminology used within the Afrofuturism community include “DieselFunk” and “SteamFunk”
- Tim Fielder and his brother Jim have a “Glog” which is similar to a video blog but with graphics. Diesel Funk
- Tim suggests Octavia Butler’s “Wildseed” as a go-to book for first time science fiction readers
- Octavia Butler, a black woman, was the first sci-fi writer to win a MacArthur Fellowship
- Octavia Butler and others are featured in a documentary entitled “Black Sci-Fi”
- Pedro Bell produced Afrofuturistic styled album covers for George Clinton and Funkadelic
- Tim Fielder feels LaBelle, Brothers Johnson, Earth Wind and Fire embodied Afrofuturism – Sun-RA? Not so much.
- Janelle Monae recently talked about Afrofuturism on Stephen Colbert. That’s major!
- Ryan Coogler and his work on Black Panther has influenced financial opportunities for afrofuturism visual artists
- Netflix has democratized how film media is manufactured, published and consumed. Creating a greater opportunity for visual artists to get their work out there.
- Tim Fielder was a guest on the Afrofuturist podcast. Although I do not see where that episode has been uploaded, check out this interview with Nyame Brown. Brown does a great job of contextualizing what Afrofuturism is and what it can be.