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.
Off The Hook (2013)
With the persona of an art dealer/representative, this performance deals with how gender and power intersect in the slippery slope of the increasing institutionalization of the artist. The “angry black woman” through passive aggression and outright violence surface over time.
The opening for Free Mason: Pick Up the Pieces is coming up this Thursday at Gallery X. The work will be a collection of my self-portraits and photographs of architectonic configurations of books, magazines, and album covers. Really looking forward to this! Click the link for location information and time.
For the past 7 months, I’ve been organizing the group exhibition Mythologies, which opens tomorrow (Friday the 7th). It all began as an idea amongst my friends and fellow members of Black at SAIC, of which I am the co-chair. When discussing our work with each other, we began to see that many topics considered passé by the art world (identity politics, feminism, collectivism, historical revision) are of particular interest to many of us, as young emerging artists of color. Apparently, not everyone has bought into the high modernism white-cubing of contemporary art nor the post-black agenda, and we immediately set about finding a space to recognize and celebrate that. Next semester, we hope to program more events that expand upon our collective efforts.
Mythologies: Challenging “Otherness ” and Other Tropes of American Pop Culture
Curated by Rashayla Marie Brown
Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor, Chicago, IL
Reception: Friday, December 7, 4:30 –7:00 p.m.
Exhibition open from December 7 –January 4
This exhibition explores the work of artists compelled to locate themselves within the identity-based mythologies of popular culture and mass media. Including a range of references as broad as Trayvon Martin and Malcolm X to cheerleading squads and movie trailers, Mythologies navigates the vernacular of pop iconography in a variety of media including photo, video, painting, and fibers. Mythologies was organized through a jury selection process initiated by current students at the School of the Art Institute.
Jury: James Britt, Simone Jelics (Co-organizer), Shahrazad Shareef
Artists: David Alekhuogie, Rashayla Marie Brown, Alexandria Eregbu, Christina A. Long, Hannah Rodriguez, Cameron Welch
Tonight I attended a talk at the Union League in Chicago highlighting Dawoud Bey, where he explained his work and projects with young people in high schools. What I found as one of the most fascinating curatorial and educational projects the art world has seen was his Portraits Re/Examined at the Walters Museum in Baltimore. The students involved were able to directly work with the museum’s collection, curate specific pieces to display alongside Bey’s work, get training on lighting and conserving work, and give tours of the space to the museum visitors. It got me to thinking about how to better integrate education and collaboration into one’s studio practice and to engage young people with their local art institutions in a meaningful and novel way. I think specifically of how the future of institutions like the Art Institute and the MCA is directly related to the status of CPS and community arts education in Chicago, which as we all know is in dire straits. It’s become clear to me that I and my fellow artists will have to initiate this conversation, and I’m working to make more connections towards that goal in the coming year.
I’m working on a megaphone video/performance tentatively titled One-Woman Gentrification Project. I’ve recently moved to the outskirts of the Gold Coast district of Chicago, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country. Friends are surprised to find out where I live and are often intrigued, wondering how I can afford it (I got a good deal on a small space) and what it’s like for me socially (I never go out to the bars which are close and quite loud). The nature of gentrification is complex for me as a student, black woman and artist, as I am on the line between several groups socially, economically and culturally. Instead of moving to a working class or “up-and-coming” neighborhood, I specifically chose to move to an area that will affect me more than I can affect it. Or can the reverse ever happen?
Color balancing, color theory, color complex, color correction, coloring books, colored people - I’m thinking about all these ideas when making this work. I am intrigued by the proliferation of Photoshop tutorials that teach how to make someone lighter or darker skinned and also those internet memes where celebrities are tastelessly rendered in another race or skin tone “just for fun.” This is a sketch I’m presenting via the internet to learn more about people’s immediate responses to them, and I’m still working through how to inject the subject with humor yet engage a critical discourse and formal considerations as well.