Curated by Keith Miller
2/6/2012 – 2/26/2012
This show explores the private language embodied in time, history and memory. As elements of experience, both history and time are elusive; they seem at once concrete and ephemeral. Memory, too, whether personal or collective, can seem both real and intangible. But time, history and memory can become modes of communication as much as means of experience, a language of communion, understanding and unity. CPT: Time, History and Memory proposes a dialogue on the nature of this communication and its engagement with history and memory.
The show is made up of three groups of work: those that make a direct reference to time, in the form of clocks and similar objects; works that address a specific memory, whether personal or collective; and pieces that address a particular historical moment.
This show is being held in conjunction with Black History Month 2012.
Sheila Pree Bright
Spurred by the American media’s projection of “typical” African American communities, Suburbia explores the African American suburbs. The work depicts the invisibility of the black middle class and hopefully, a more realistic picture of the average African American of the 21st century. The series takes aim at how mainstream imagery plays its part in influencing and defining society’s concept of “blackness.” The series also explores the dynamics of living to challenge American ideologies about lifestyle, culture, and identity.
Sheila Pree Bright is a Fine Art photographer based in Atlanta. Her large-scale works combine a wide-ranging knowledge of contemporary culture, while challenging perceptions of identity. Bright received national attention after winning the Santa Fe Prize from the Santa Fe Center for photography in 2006 for a series of work entitled The Suburbia Series. Bright has emerged as a new voice in contemporary photography with her edgy portrayals of urban and suburban themes, as well as her provocative commentary about American beauty standards. Bright has embarked on one of her most ambitious projects to date called the Young Americans, which was underwritten with a grant from the Aetna Foundation and premiered as a solo exhibition at the High Museum in Art in Atlanta in May 2008 and the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art in September. The Young Americans series traveled throughout 2009-2010 and Bright is now working on her new series about young women.
Griots of the Revolution series magnifies more than forty profound instructions for social change through detailed linear “connect-the-dots” drawings. Using “griot” or storyteller broadly, practitioners from various disciplines, geographies, and eras tell of ways to facilitate our individual and collective evolution. The large drawings on fadeless black paper in gold paint pen refer to the West African “Gold Coast” origins of the griot, and the diverse Diaspora that are the models of the Griots of the Revolution series. The African reference is furthered by synthesizing the call-and-response practice from African culture into delicately drawn quotations and a collaborative aspect that allows viewers to participate in the creation of the drawing. Public Enemy is one of the most influential music groups of the twentieth century, catapulting hip hop to national and global awareness and pioneering the genre of hardcore rap into what is known today as socially conscious hip hop. From Long Island, New York,Public Enemy was built on an evolving and often contradictory politics of Black collectivity. Mixing offbeat samples with elements of traditional funk, Public Enemy balanced the in your face lyrics and relentless flow of Chuck D with the highly humored style and playful image of Flavor Flav. Public Enemy’s music was perceived as so controversial that in 1990 they appeared in an FBI report concerning ‘rap music and its effects on national security.’
Brett Cook’s work cohesively integrates the breadth and depth of his diverse experiences with art, education, science, and spirituality. For over two decades, Cook has produced installations, exhibitions, curricula, and events widely across the United States, and internationally. His museum work features drawing, painting, photography, and elaborate installations that make intimately personal experiences universally accessible. His public projects typically involve community workshops and collaborative art, along with music, performance, and food to create a more fluid boundary between art making, daily life, and healing. He has received various prestigious awards, including the Lehman Brady Visiting Professorship at Duke University and UNC – Chapel Hill, the Richard C. Diebenkorn Fellowship at the San Francisco Art Institute, and residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME, the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY, Art Omi, NY, and the Headlands Center for the Arts, CA. His work is in private and public collections including the Smithsonian/National Portrait Gallery, the Walker Art Center, and Harvard University. In 2012 he will travel to Lagos, Nigeria as part of The U.S Department of State’s smART Power Initiative.
C. Daniel Dawson
Carnival is one of Brazil’s most well known cultural activities, especially the celebrations of the Escolas da Samba in Rio de Janeiro and the Bloco Afros in Salvador, Bahia, but there are numerous other important festivals throughout the country. Found principally in the states of Ceará, Piauí, Pará and Maranhão, Bumba-Meu-Boi is one of the most impressive cultural manifestations of the African Diaspora. The name ‘Bumba-Meu-Boi’ is commonly translated as ‘Bang! Pow! Wham! My Bull.’ The word ‘Bumba’ is from the Kikongo language meaning ‘to beat,’ while ‘Meu-Boi’ means ‘My-Bull/Ox’ in Portuguese. In it’s contemporary form, it is a spectacular celebration that fuses African, Amerindian and European elements in a swirling colorful display. Brazilians often identify this fusion as illustrating their national ethos and the blending of the races in their country. Unfortunately, that description of creolization, as is also the case with capoeira and samba, tends to forget, obscure or devalue an originating African influence. Ethnomusicologist Kazadi wa Mukuna has shown that Bumba-Meu-Boi was created in the São Francisco river valley in Bahia and Pernambuco in the 17th Century and later spread to other parts of Brazil. Enslaved Africans working in the area’s cattle farms, sugar plantations and mills created it to ridicule their colonial masters. As Bumba-Meu-Boi migrates to other locations, its specific slave roots are forgotten, with the celebration now representing Brasil’s mixed cultural and racial identity. The basic plot tells the story of the birth, growth, death and resurrection of a prize bull on the plantation of a Portuguese owner. A slave, Pai Francisco, killed the bull so his pregnant wife, Mãe Catarina, could eat its tongue, and eventually an Amerindian healer resurrects the bull. The earliest style was Boi de Zabumba, the most African form. The most recent style, Boi de Orquestra, originated around 1952 and stressed European costumes, instruments and musical styles. The Bumba-Meu-Boi Photography Project was started in 1999. It grew out of an older Brazilian project, which began in 1983 and was formalized in 1984 with a grant from Arthur Ashe and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe. John Pinderhughes made the prints for this exhibit on Canson Platine Fiber Rag paper a using Canon 5100 digital printer. A large selection of Bumba-Meu-Boi photographs was shown in 2011 at the Brazilian Endowment for the Arts (NYC) in Between Light and Shadow: Aspects of Brazilian Popular Culture.
C. Daniel Dawson first learned photography at the age of 14 from his father who was an avid amateur photographer. In college he studied with Ralph Hattersley (Columbia University), Lizette Model (New School for Social Research), and Paul Caponegro (New York University/ Graduate Institute of Film and Television). In between studies Dawson also worked as a medical photographer at the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry where he developed his craft under Marshall Taub, the Chief Medical Photographer. At NYU, Dawson also studied the history of photography under John Szarkowski and Peter Bunnell, who were at the time the curators of photography at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC). While in film school he met Louis Draper, one of the founding members of Kamoinge, a pioneering group of African American photographers founded in 1963. Dawson was later asked to join the group in 1970. In 1971 he was awarded a CAP Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, in 1978 a CETA Grant from the Cultural Council Foundation (NYC), and in 1984 an independent grant to photograph in Brazil. As a photographer, he has been published in numerous books and magazines and has shown in over 35 exhibitions. Dawson began curating while still in high school at Arts High in Newark, New Jersey. He went on to become the first James Van Der Zee Curator of Photography, Film and Video at the Studio Museum in Harlem. In addition he has curated more than 70 exhibitions including Harlem Heyday: The Photographs of James Van Der Zee and The Sound I Saw: The Jazz Photographs of Roy DeCarava. His essay for the Sound I Saw… exhibition catalog was selected as one of the finest examples of African American writings about art. The catalog also received a Citation of Merit from the Art Libraries Society of New York in 1984. On numerous occasions Dawson has also served as a judge for the New York State Council on the Arts and the American Photographic Institute. He has also been associated with many prize-winning films including Head and Heart by James Mannas and Capoeiras of Brazil by Warrington Hudlin. He has worked as a consultant for the American Museum of Natural History, Caribbean Cultural Center, Cooper Hewitt Museum, International Center for Photography, Lincoln Center, Museum for African Art, Ralph Appelbaum Associates and three different divisions of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. He is currently a curator with the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s curatorial team. He is currently a professor at both New York University (Gallatin School of Individualized Study) and Columbia University (Institute for Research in African American Studies).
These images were made for my personal project, ‘Before Genesis,” where I look for ancient sacred footprints along the River Nile, that spiritual corridor where all of the major religions of the West, have their spiritual antecedent.
A favorite among collectors for his classic image “The Moslem Woman,” Chester Higgins has emerged as one of the premier photographers of his generation. Because he believes art humanizes us, the subjects of his photographs are most important to him. Higgins gives voice to the unseen interior spirit. His images resonate with a spiritual echo. Much of Higgins’ imagery is inspired by his quest for the evidence of ancestral identity and the desire to broaden the visual document as it relates to people of African descent. Over the past five decades, he has produced six books of compelling images reflecting a sensitive and in-depth diary of his explorations of the human Diaspora. Higgins’ images of ordinary moments enable us to see and appreciate the fullness of humanity. Through portraits and studies of living rituals and ancient civilizations, viewers gain a rare insight into cultural behavior — a window to another place and time. “With the camera I embrace the spirit that is the essence of all existence, ” he says. “I search for the signature of the spirit in my subjects, and through my art, I become whole.” Higgins is the author of the photo collections Black Woman, Drums of Life, Some Time Ago, Feeling the Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa, Elder Grace, and his memoir Echo of the Spirit. A Tuskegee Institute alumni, he mentored under P.H. Polk, Arthur Rothstein, Cornell Capa, Gordon Parks and Romare Bearden. He has been a staff photographer for The New York Times since 1975; his photographs have appeared in ArtNews, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Look, Life, Newsweek, Fortune, Ebony, Essence, Black Enterprise, GEO, The Village Voice, New York Magazine, The New Yorker and Archaeology. His work is the topic of two PBS films: “An American Photographer: Chester Higgins Jr.,” and “Brotherman.” His solo exhibitions have appeared at the International Center of Photography, The Museum of Photographic Arts, The Smithsonian Institution, The Museum of African Art, Musee Dapper Paris, The Schomburg Center, The New-York Historical Society, and Emory University’s Schatten Gallery.
Hank Willis Thomas
This piece is a composite image showing a photograph of Hank’s father when he was a young man and Hank standing in the same place in Philadelphia at the same age. The photograph of Hank’s father was taken the day of his birth.
Hank Willis Thomas is a photo conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to identity, history and popular culture. He received his BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and his MFA in photography, along with an MA in visual criticism, from California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco. Thomas has acted as a visiting professor at CCA and in the MFA programs at Maryland Institute College of Art and ICP/Bard and has lectured at Yale University, Princeton University, the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. He has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad including Galerie Anne De Villepoix in Paris, the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. Thomas’ work is in numerous public collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, The High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Museum of Fine Art in Houston. His collaborative projects have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and installed publicly at the Oakland International Airport, The Oakland Museum of California and the University of California, San Francisco. Recent exhibitions include Dress Codes: The International Center for Photography’s Triennial of Photography and Video, Greater New York at P.S. 1/MoMa, Contact Toronto Photography Festival and Houston Fotofest. Thomas is currently a fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University. Thomas is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City.
In the “Bodybuilder Series” what I am trying to do is focus on the female body, contextualized and situated in the present, pointing to how work is manifested physically in the black female body, shorn of covering, and developed and amplified in muscles and tendon, shoulders and calves. The depiction of physical work and its impact on the development of the body has oftentimes been relegated to men and, thus, the world of physical work is constructed as one that is gender specific. This series attempts to speak to that notion and how the black female body, if viewed under the lens of actual work, deconstructs and re-configures the image of women, pointing to literal strength, and not figurative, emotionally-specific moments.
Named among the 100 Most Important People in Photography by American Photography Magazine, Dr. Deborah Willis is Chair and Professor of Photography and Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, where she also has an affiliated appointment with the College of Arts and Sciences, Africana Studies. A 2005 Guggenheim and Fletcher Fellow, a 2000 MacArthur Fellow, 1996 Recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award, and now an artist, she is one of the nation’s leading historians of African American photography and curator of African American culture. Among her notable projects are Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers – 1840 to the Present, A Small Nation of People: W.E.B. DuBois and African American Portraits of Progress, The Black Female Body in Photography, Let Your Motto be Resistance, and Obama: the Historic Campaign in Photographs. Last fall, Dr. Willis curated the traveling exhibition Posing Beauty in African American Culture, which was based on her book Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890’s to the Present. A more recent work, Michelle Obama, The First Lady in Photographs, was published and released in November. She lives in New York.
Intertextuality, Volume I is an neo- futuristic, nikisi based book is meant to honor and encourage alternative methods of knowledge sharing. Dancing Latasha is a gesture toward (re)claiming one of earliest and most recognizable images of the body made by humankind. The piece attempts to draw a line between the distance past and contemporary life. It is a recognition of an archeology of memory and historical continuity, be they real or imagined.
Stephanie Dinkins is a visual artist whose public projects, installations, videos and still images seek balance amongst the mind, signifying body and social perception. She has exhibited her work in New York, Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore, Detroit, Washington DC, Dallas, Germany, Denmark, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Her work has been included in group and solo exhibitions in a wide variety of arts venues including Institute of Contemporary Art (Dunaujvaros, Hungary; Gallery 138 (New York, NY), Herning Kunst Museum (Herning, Denmark), Spellman College Museum of Fine Art (Atlanta, Georgia); Spedition (Bremen, Germany); Studio Museum (Harlem, NY), Bronx Museum of Art (Bronx, NY), Jamaica Center for the Arts, ( Queens, NY) and the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and Putnam Avenue, (Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn). The Puffin Foundation, Trust for Mutual Understanding, Lef Foundation, Create Change, Approach Art Association and Residency Unlimited have all generously supported her art practice. She received an MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and a BS in Marketing and Advertising from Syracuse University. She attended the International Center of Photography, Bronx Museum Artist in the Marketplace Program and Whitney Independent Study Program. Ms. Dinkins is currently Associate Professor and MFA Program Director in the Department of Art at Stony Brook University.
The images is this series were all made in Brooklyn prior to the great crack plague of the 1980’s that would devastate communities nationwide. Having witnessed first hand the destruction that the heroin epidemic created during the 1960’s – 1970’s in my community, I took on the task to warn those around me of the dark days that I saw coming. The camera served as a perfect tool that created countless opportunities for me to both approach young people and speak to them about the dangers their generation was facing, but also to document their legacy for future generations to see.
Jamel Shabazz says his work is focused on the human experience, which is clearly supported by the titles of his countless solo exhibitions: “Men of Honor,” “The Last Sunday in June,” “Back in the Days,” “Women Only,” “When Two Worlds Meet,” ” Street Photography,” and Brooklyn Academy of Music’s ” Pieces of a Man,” which have been shown from Canada to Argentina, Ethiopia, Korea, Italy, England, France, and Germany, as well as throughout the United States. An even longer list of group showings at the Brooklyn Museum, the Bronx Museum of Art, Museum of the City of New York, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the African American Museum of Philadelphia, the Columbia College Chicago, the Newark Museum, Haverford College and other locations, bears such titles as: “Glimpses in Time,” “Reasons to Riot,” “Black Style Now,” “Harlem Art Project,” “Bebop to Hip Hop,” “Sneaker Pimps,” “Under One Groove,” “Visions from New York,” and “1968—Then and Now.” Five monographs of his work have been published: Back in the Days, The Last Sunday in June, A Time Before Crack, Seconds of My Life, and Back in the Days: A Remix. Shabazz studied at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was a New York City Correction Officer for twenty years, has mentored teens in street photography and is a long time member of Rush Philanthropic Arts. This varied and diverse background has promoted Ken Johnson to call him “the best kind of photojournalist: one driven by curiosity about other human beings,” as he continues meticulously documenting life around the globe.
In Coloured Black Forbes explores notions of cultural past and the line between African and European history (is there a line between African and European history?). The figurines harp back to a glorious European past when men worn wigs, tights and lace, which is also when the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade was the main driver of the Industrial Revolution and wealthy merchants consumed all the finery that reflected their new financial statues.
Michael Forbes is an artist curator based in Nottingham. Forbes graduated in Photography at Nottingham Trent University in 1998, and his practice includes Photography, Painting and Installations. His work is influenced by the historical relationship between Europe and Africa and the influence this has had on world history and contemporary life. The Black Diaspora plays an important part in his everyday thinking in many arenas, such as Social & Political issues around Education, Poverty, Race and Racism. Other factors included in his work comprise of Masculinity, Fashion, Wealth, Beauty and the nature of Success. Forbes has recently completed a yearlong residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP), New York. Following his residency in New York, Forbes will have work included the exhibition, Next Generation: Contemporary American Photography at Pasinger Fabrik and Amerika Haus in Munich later this year.
Reagan, the Revolution, and Me, 2008- A video installation exploring my personal socialization and understanding of blackness, family, and society through references to medial and imagery I absorbed as a child. The piece includes home furnishings like the ones found in my childhood home including shag carpeting and a basked like the one my parents used to keep newspapers in.
From within the basket a monitor displays a loop of spliced together video of various televised content I watched as a child, as well as media from the political climate in which the piece was actually created. The video includes content from The Cosby Show, Good Times, news footage relating to the Black Panther Party, and footage relating to the murder of Sean Bell and the cases of the Jena 6.
Sonia Louise Davis
My photography is nomadic and quotidian, an evolving process of self-discovery and local engagement, and an attempt to weave my own story into the visual fabric of my neighborhood. Over the past year and a half I’ve been making images in and about Harlem with a 4×5 monorail camera. I’m drawn to the physical shooting process, moving slowly through the streets around my apartment, I mine the public and private archive for traces of the past. I take Harlem as my subject and context, and my practice is a mix of documentary and autobiography, both found and made on Harlem streets. Drawing on collective memory and family history, I’m interested in framing the personal past in this mythic and everyday place.
The objects featured in the still-lives belonged to my grandparents and they hold personal sentimental value. As temporary constructions on the streets of Harlem, they are also physical reminders of the legacies of the past, absent portraits of sitters long gone. The sites around the neighborhood provide context, surrounding staged scenes with anti-landmarks, forgotten storefronts and mid-block bursts of color. As non-specific records of change, these lonely cityscapes balance the intimate moments made and captured by my camera. I’m interested in preserving local histories and paying homage to Harlem’s past with an eye towards the future. A neighborhood can mean different things to different people, and Harlem’s particular identity as a cultural landmark presents a challenge in making those individual stories heard. I see the work as a way to pay my respects, to the people I love who have died and to a historic neighborhood in the midst of massive change.
The Hip-Hop Word Count is a searchable ethnographic database built from the lyrics of over 40,000 Hip-Hop songs from 1979 to present day. The Hip-Hop Word Count describes the technical details of most of your favorite hip-hop songs. This data can then be used to not only figure out interesting stats about the songs themselves, but also describe the culture behind the music. How can analyzing lyrics teach us about our culture? The Hip-Hop Word Count locks in a time and geographic location for every metaphor, simile, cultural reference, phrase, rhyme style, meme and socio-political idea used in the corpus of Hip-Hop. The Hip-Hop Word Count then converts this data into explorable visualisations, which help us to comprehend this vast set of cultural data. This data is being used to chart the migration of ideas and builds a geography of language. The readability scores are on a scale from 0 (illiterate) to 20 (post-graduate degree).
Tahir Hemphill is an award-winning creative director and multimedia artist working in the areas of interdisciplinary thought, collaboration and research. As creative director, Hemphill has planned strategy for businesses in the entertainment, advertising, and nonprofit industries. He has conceived and implemented design-based solutions for brands including Mercedes Benz, L’Oreal, Verizon, and Microsoft. Hemphill has been a consultant for Y&R, Publicis, Grey, Saatchi & Saatchi and Burrell Communications. Hemphill’s creative process explores the vicinity between the profound and the profane, between art and science. His artwork is featured in the Talk to Me exhibit at MoMA which explores design and the communication between people and objects. Hemphill’s work has been exhibited at Siggraph (Siggraph 2002); Queens Museum of Art (Queens International Biennial, 2002) and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Black New York Photographers of the Twentieth Century, 1999). Hemphill holds a B.A. in Spanish Language from Morehouse College, a Strategic Planning Certificate from Miami Ad School and a M.S. in Communications Design from Pratt Institute — where he authored and designed a treatise on the methodologies of creatives who use traditional advertising techniques to promote subversive and prosocial campaigns.
Currently Hemphill enjoys his role as cultural entrepreneur, operating the Brooklyn-based creative enterprise, Staple Crops. His current project, The Hip-Hop Word Count is a searchable rap almanac. Hemphill also manages the media arts education program for Red Clay Arts, a nonprofit incubator for contemporary artists that he co-founded in 2000. Recently, Tahir accepted a position as Assistant Director, Research at the Hip Hop Education Center in the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development