Hey y’all, I wanted to share my new website here at cargocollective. I hope in the next couple of weeks to properly customize the code and collapse all the domains I own. (It’s always hard to say goodbye to a domain - I let go of theblackbetty.com and am still regretting it). In the meantime, I thought it best to share with the world, so that maybe I could get some feedback on it. Thanks for checking out my work!
Rashayla Marie Brown: On Her Intersectionality Critique Initiative | College Art Association Columbia Blog
LL: As a practicing artist why did you feel it was important to work within education?
RMB: When I started as an artist, I felt very alone and unsure that my type of art, the kind that critically engaged my identity and cultural theory, was valued and appreciated. That feeling often directly relates to one’s success – if you don’t have role models or peers to safely share ideas with, you might take much too long to explore and articulate your ideas.
Thank you, La Keisha Leek, for giving me an opportunity to share my work in academia to a broader audience. I’ve been running this series since fall of 2013, which allows for expansion in our notions of community and education in the arts. I’ve been thinking a lot about the “artist-as-” phenomenon, and the idea of artist-as-scholar and artist-as-educator aligns quite squarely with my practice.
You know who you are.
Your parents may be immigrants. You yourself may be from a place far from where you currently live. You may have been the only (insert minority) in your art and theory classes. Your sexuality and gender (or lack thereof) may become a topic of conversation before your work does. You may have grown up without access to museums and good art supplies, but you still drew, sculpted, took pictures, or performed for your family and friends. Your beliefs or body type may make you a target for violence or ridicule. You may make work about your identity or you may not. Like all artists and scholars, you want to share your work and ideas.
You are reminded daily or occasionally but you are reminded nonetheless: you are “other.”
To you, I declare that community is not passé. It is the foundation upon which we stand, no matter how post-modern, irreverent, or solitary our practices. Also, I propose that heritage and the history of those who came before you is not a burden, but a source of strength. Tribute, homage, and respect are not just generational mandates - it is how your foundation is continually fortified. Community is how artists survive perpetual historical amnesia at the hands of the gatekeepers of the canon from which we seek acceptance.
I’m not going to lie to you. There are rewards for this amnesia - people will call you avant-garde or controversial, you don’t seem hindered by oppression, you aren’t didactic, you will gain access into places - alone - because you are one of the chosen ones who don’t challenge the institution. But you will be in the ivory tower, alone.
We can explore such ideas as the post-black, the post-racial, and the post-feminist because our ancestors’ world was a world of firsts before the post. I appeal to you to acknowledge your influences, publicly and loudly. I implore you to do your research and cite your sources. I ask you to share. Do not be lulled by the open gate or window, and then close it behind you so no one else like you can enter. A sense of competition is bred into the art world that makes you feel like you will lose if you aren’t the chosen one. Especially to the radiant child and the wunderkind, I ask you to open your hands and release your anxiety.
Perhaps most importantly, reach back and open doors to your elders. They need us, too. I applaud William Cordova’s work on the Black Panthers, Rashid Johnson for curating Sam Gilliam, Mickalene Thomas’ inter-generational show of black photographers at Rhona Hoffman, Clifford Owens’ historic work Anthology, LaMont Hamilton’s 75 Portraits project, and Eliza Myrie, Dawoud Bey, Candida Alvarez, and Theaster Gates for organizing the Black Artists Retreat.
Since Terry Adkins’ passing yesterday, I have been shocked at how many people did not know this brilliant man and his work. However, I have taken comfort that I belong to a community of people in the art world who take care of each other. “Are you alright?” “How is so-and-so taking the news?” “Do you want to talk?” “How will we make sure Terry is not forgotten?” I met the man briefly and have only been in this community for a few years, yet I feel totally enveloped by support. LaMont Hamilton and I were marveling about his impact and how we feel as emerging artists to have had the chance to share words and ideas with him. How good it feels to know I am not the only one who wants to celebrate his legacy.
This is not only about respecting your elders. It is also about self-care. The threat of addiction, isolation, and fear of losing your spot can have fatal consequences. We’ve seen this with our beloved Jean-Michel Basquiat. Take care of yourself and others on the margins with you. None of us are free until all of us are free.
May you all find comfort and power from your community in art and in history.
Brother Terry, may your legacy live forever.
Rashayla Marie Brown
February 9, 2014
I have been recently afforded the opportunity for a solo exhibition at the Black Harvest Film Festival in the Gene Siskel Film Center. This is a wonderful opportunity to show photographs from my show earlier this year, Free Mason, to a new audience. Looking forward to the opening festivities tonight, where Chicago’s own Theaster Gates will be presented an award.
Many thanks to SAIC’s Student Union Galleries and the Siskel Film Center.
I’ve been invited to threewalls’s Power of Ten Auction and 10th Birthday Bash. The proceeds will benefit the stellar ongoing programming of threewalls. Food trucks, acrobats, and drinks …plus awesome artwork by me and artists representing the best arts organizations in Chicago!
RASHAYLA MARIE BROWN, POMBRA GIRA III, 2012, ARCHIVAL INKJET PRINT
Rashayla Marie Brown is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and writer. She received a BA in Sociology and African-American Studies from Yale University in 2004 and a BFA in Photography and Video from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. Her work primarily negotiates race, sexuality, spirituality, and popular culture in the formation of personal mythologies. She has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants, including the Anna Louise Raymond Fellowship, Chicago Artist Coalition’s BOLT Residency, the Archibald Motley Grant, and SAIC’s Graduating Student Leadership Award.
Curated by community partner Arts Incubator in Washington Park
Entire video of the panel, Controversy, Community, and Curriculum, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Hosted by Black at SAIC, SAIC Dean’s Office, and Office of Student Affairs. Moderated and organized by Rashayla Marie Brown. Panel composed of Barbara De Genevieve, Oli Rodriguez, Faheem Majeed, and Romi Crawford.
Yesterday, I moderated Black at SAIC’s (BaSAIC) panel discussion with an esteemed group of faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The panel addressed controversy around student work, building community in the classroom, and revamping SAIC’s curriculum to be more inclusive and diverse. We had a packed house of at least 60 attendees, and some of them were from other schools such as University of Chicago and Columbia College. The audience members were fully invested in the panelists’ insights from beginning to end. Diana Buendía wrote a great recap of the event in the school’s student newspaper.
The panel was formulated in response to an article written by me and submitted collaboratively by the members of our student group, Black at SAIC, to SAIC’s student newspaper, F Newsmagazine. This article started a heated debate amongst students, faculty and staff, where students wanted the administration to address problematic, potentially offensive student work and provide a more comprehensive critique process that encouraged dialogue around issues of race, class, power, and privilege. This also comes hot on the heels of several diversity initiatives at the school, and the administration reached out to our group to show support and help us formulate a public dialogue around these issues.
The most salient aspect of this experience for me was feeling like a part of community within SAIC. With our new Leroy Neiman Center, more events like these are taking place, which develops a sense of belonging to many students who never felt like they truly belonged here. The faculty panelists, Barbara De Genevieve, Faheem Majeed, Romi Crawford, and Oli Rodriguez, showed how completely committed our faculty members are in this process, and it makes me truly grateful to know that they have the students’ best interests at heart and in action. The ideas they provided on the panel were continually generative and productive, as well as honest and straightforward. Also, the support of Deans Tiffany Holmes and Rebecca Duclos, as well as SAIC alum Kellie Romany, was vital in bringing this long-standing dream to life for me and BaSAIC.
This was an inspiring, historic moment for SAIC and BaSAIC, and a personal highlight in my experience as a student. I can’t wait to see what dialogue continues to surface from this conversation.
This is a portion of my first hour-long artist talk for the solo exhibition Free Mason: Pick Up the Pieces. It was facilitated by SAIC faculty member and Leadership Advisory Committee Fellow Shahrazad Shareef. I am still experiencing insights from Shahrazad’s thoughtful engagement with my work, and I thank her for being so thorough with her questions.