This Black History Month and beyond, it’s important for us to celebrate, honor and experience moments that capture Black artistry, while recognizing the contributions that have not only shaped American culture, but in many ways led it. Mark your calendars for virtual events across art, music, dance and literature – mural tours, a live painting demo, virtual discussions, neighborhood walking tours and more – that will take you on a journey of black expression, revolution and creativity.
Talib Kweli: Vibrate Higher
Long before Talib Kweli became a world-renowned Hip Hop artist, entrepreneur and activist, he was just a curious kid from Brooklyn wandering the streets of New York City with his crew of artists, DJs and rappers. Being a part of the first generation to grow up with Hip Hop as an established culture in the 1970s, he came to understand its rich history, unmistakable worldview and beloved heroes. On 22 February, Kweli sits down with the California African American Museum to discuss his candid memoir, Vibrate Higher: A Rap Story, which illuminates his upbringing and artistic success, while also discussing Hip Hop and its political side – one that sparked the current Black Lives Matter movement and proves to be a continuous channel for Black resistance.
Admission: Free. RSVP for Zoom instructions. Monday 22 February 2021 at 5PM PST.
Making [Space]: Artists and Organizers of Black [Space] Residency in Conversation
On 26 February, the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) will present the first in a series of three panel discussions featuring the organizers and artists behind Black [Space] Residency, “a physical container for imagination, inquiry, activity and rest for Black creatives.” Led by moderator Elena Gross, panelists Ashara Ekundayo, Erica Deeman, Ron Saunders and Binta Ayofemi will converse about the founding of the residency and the work of its first resident, photographer Chanell Stone. MoAD is a supporting partner of Black [Space] Residency.
Admission: Pay-what-you-can. Friday 26 February at 12PM PST. RSVP to receive Zoom link.
Black Renaissance: The Art and Soul of Our Stories
Premiering 26 February on the YouTube Originals Channel, Black Renaissance: The Art and Soul of Our Stories promises to be a must-watch cultural event. Hosted by former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama, the program will highlight Black artists, musicians, dancers and activists who have shaped American history, and showcase the next generation of creatives. Featured guests include Jason Reynolds, Killer Mike, Jamelle Hill and Shantell Martin, along with a performance by Tobe Nwigwe.
Greenwich Village’s historic reputation as a hub for avant-garde creative thinkers is well-documented – but the ways in which Black artists shaped and influenced the iconic New York City neighborhood is often overlooked. Black Bohemia: a Virtual Village Walking Tour, led by long-time tour guides Derrick Edwards and Eric Chase, spotlights how the Village’s fame was defined by Black artists, writers and thinkers, from James Baldwin to Audre Lorde.
Admission: Free. Tuesday 23 February 23 2021 at 6PM EST.
On 23 February, the Studio Museum in Harlem will present an online edition of Artist-in-Residence Open Studios! In the talk, 2020–21 artists-in-residence Widline Cadet, Genesis Jerez, Texas Isaiah and Jacolby Satterwhite will sit down and discuss their work and process. The program will feature opening remarks from Associate Curator Legacy Russell, followed by brief presentations and exhibitions of each artist’s work. Concluding the program is a roundtable discussion moderated by the museum’s Curatorial Assistant Yelena Keller and Senior Coordinator Chayamnne Marcano.
Admission: Free. Tuesday 23 February 2021 at 6PM EST. This program will feature live CART captioning.
Join Curated Storefront, an arts organization based in Akon, Ohio, for a one-hour panel discussion with emerging artists as they discuss what it means to be a young, Black artist in the current climate of contemporary art. Organizing the panel is Akron-based artist Kwamé Gomez, and moderating the conversation is Diane Davis-Sikora, an associate professor at Kent State University and practicing artist. Gomez states this panel will allow“space for a conversation that serves as a fundamental ground to discuss the endless possibilities based in our knowledge of the present and past histories concerning art, Blackness, and innovation. What is in store for us when we, Black artists, stand in contemporary art now and years down the line, hoping to inspire and empower a new generation of artists to create and imagine a world beyond western visual expectations of art, breaking and appropriating the ideas of materiality, narrative and taste.” Viewers can listen or actively participate during the panel discussion on Zoom by asking live questions through the chat box.
Admission: Free. Thursday 25 February 2021 at 7PM EST. RSVP to receive Zoom link.
BLK HST x The Creative Collective: Reclaiming Our Stories
The Creative Collective NYC, a community and creative agency immersed in culture, teamed up with the educational platform BLK HST to present BLK HST: Reclaiming Our Stories. The interactive, virtual exhibit, which launched on 17 February, highlights a handful of incredible African Americans who left their mark on history and shaped our culture. Featured artists and history makers include James Baldwin, Cheryl Browne Hollingsworth, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Thelma Johnson Streat. BLK HST: Reclaiming Our Stories is organized by School of Space, a global spatial design community and built on Arium, a social event platform.
Admission: Free and ongoing. RSVP to receive Zoom link.
On 24 February, Mural Arts Philadelphia will present a virtual tour of murals that represent iconic African American figures and civic heroes of the past and present. With a live tour guide presenting over Zoom, guests will “travel” through different Philadelphia neighborhoods to visit important murals, and hear the stories behind each work of art and artists who made them.
Admission: $15. Wednesday 24 February 2021 at 6PM EST. RSVP to receive Zoom link.
In this TEDTalk entitled, Can Art Amend History?, painter and sculptor Titus Kaphar discusses his introduction to art history and examines how countless paintings and sculptures in Western art reveal a complex history of racism. Kaphar argues that, while we can’t erase this history, we can amend it. In an unforgettable, live painting demonstration, Kaphar takes a brush full of white paint to a replica of a 17th-century Frans Hals painting, concealing parts of the composition and forcing the audience to shift focus and understand the coded narrative in the work. Through the demonstration, we are allowed to examine the uncomfortable truths about art history and reflect on how to make the future better.
In Conversation with John E. Dowel Jr. and Ruth Naomi Floyd
As part of The African American Museum in Philadelphia’s Black History Month programming, the museum presents a virtual conversation with two famed Philadelphia artists: John E. Dowell, Jr., a photographer and visual artist, and Ruth Naomi Floyd, a photographer and vocalist/composer. Moderated by Dr. Brittany Webb, the Evelyn and Will Kaplan Curator of Twentieth-Century Art and the John Rhoden Collection at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the artists will be asked to consider how their experiences within African American communities and culture manifest in their artwork.
Admission: $8 General Admission. Wednesday 24 February at 6PM EST.