NEW YORK—Artists, writers, activists, and readers around the world reacted to the death of author Toni Morrison in New York last week. Her publisher, Alfred Knopf, said her death was caused by complications from pneumonia. Figures including Deanna Lawson, Zadie Smith, Arthur Jafa, and Tracy K. Smith have all discussed Morrison’s influence on their work and celebrated her powerful storytelling, style, and monumental presence in American literature as an author, editor, and critic.
Toni Morrison: Pieces I Am, the recent documentary about the Morrison’s life and work, will be screened on Sunday, September 8 at 2 pm at the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta, Georgia.
NEW ORLEANS—A Studio in the Woods, a six-week residency on the banks of the Mississippi, has announced their new cohort for the 2019-2020 year. Representing disciplines such a sculpture, performance, and visual arts, the selected artists will spend their residency exploring how climate adaptations—cultural, political, and regional—present new opportunities and challenges. The newly announced residents are Danielle Abrams, Kai Barrow, Jeffery Darensbourg, Margaret Pearce, Kei Slaughter and ChE, and Nick Slie.
ORLANDO—After receiving proposals from high profile artists and architects such as Jenny Holzer, Sanford Biggers, and Studio Drift, the planned Memorial Museum at the site of the Pulse night club shooting has received pushback from community members. Community Coalition Against a Pulse Museum—an organization made up of survivors, families of victims, and Orlando residents—argues that the funds being raised for the museum should be put towards the care and expenses of the survivors first. CCAPM’s stated mission says, “We humbly ask the public, as well as all private and corporate donors, to give their money to organizations that provide lifetime care to survivors and not towards the expensive museum project, which is expected to cost $40M to build and $7.2M to run annually. Put people first. We care more about our survivors than educating tourists. Survivors should be taken care of, not taken advantage of. All fundraising efforts associated with Orlando’s mass shooting need to be directed towards providing lifetime care to survivors. All funds raised should be used to EXPAND existing services and ensure that all survivors get the financial support, medical services, community support programs, and mental health care they need for life.” A representative from the onePulse foundation, the organization behind the proposed museum, said in a press release, “We respect the thoughts and opinions of everyone in the community who was affected by this tragic event and are taking them all into consideration on how we move forward.”
NEW YORK—Artists Bojana Ginn, Linda Lopez, Elizabeth Alexander and Jaydan Moore—representing Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Virginia, respectively—were announced as finalists for the 2019 Burke Prize, an unrestricted $50,000 awarded annually by the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) in New York to an artist working with metal, glass, wood, fiber or clay.
HAVANA—Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, a Cuban artist and activist, was arrested performing his piece Drapeau in front of the Museum of Dissidence over Cuba’s Decree 349, which prohibits independent cultural expression on the island. At the time of his arrest, he had the Cuban flag drapped over his shoulders, which according to legislation is forbidden. Cuban flags are allowed to be displayed in homes and for public events, but they are not legally allowed to be shown along side other symbols or worn.
BATON ROUGE—One month after Sadie Roberts-Joseph—the civil rights activist and founder of the Baton Rogue African American History Museum—was murdered by her former tenant, the museum she founded was vandalized. Police have confirmed that they are investigating damaged, altered, and removed pieces, benches, and other aspects of the museum.
LITTLE ROCK—As the Arkansas Art Center temporarily relocates while undergoing construction for its new $128M building in MacArthur Park, the museum has announced that Dr. Victoria Ramirez will take over as director. Ramirez arrives in Arkansas from her position as director of the El Paso Museum of Art. She was previously deputy director of the Bullock Texas State History Museum and educational director for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The new Arkansas Art Center, designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang, plans to open its doors in early 2022.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Portrait Gallery has acquired the portrait of Beyoncé shot last year by Tyler Mitchell, a twenty-three-year-old Atlanta native. Mitchell was the first African American to shoot the cover of Vogue and the youngest photographer since Richard Avedon to have his photograph on the cover. In the magazine, Beyoncé said, “When I first started, twenty-one years ago, I was told that it was hard for me to get onto covers of magazines because Black people did not sell. Clearly that has been proven a myth. Not only is an African American on the cover of the most important month for Vogue, this is the first ever Vogue cover shot by an African American photographer.” This is the second portrait of Beyoncé acquired by the National Portrait Gallery.