Appointed to MASS MoCA for the project “Centering Care in the Arts”
Founded in 1999 in North Adams, MA, and located in a historic mill complex, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) seeks to catalyze and support the creation of new art, expose its visitors to bold visual and performing art during all stages of production, and re-invigorate the life of a region in socioeconomic need. The Leading Edge Fellow will design innovative public programming and forward equity and inclusivity partnerships among MCLA and other local community organizations and individuals. The Leading Edge Fellow will serve a vital role to develop the project's outreach both to the rural community of the Berkshires and to the extended urban populations that we serve. Potential community partners who represent other sites of work include the Berkshire Community Resource Center, which is MCLA's center for community engagement, and Soul Fire Farm, Multicultural BRIDGE, Roots Rising, and Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. The fellow will contribute to the MASS MoCA/MCLA Care Syllabus, which aims to generate civic discourse and public engagement about COVID-19 through accessible and free online programming. The syllabus takes an integrative approach that brings unconventional educators who operate outside the academy in conversation with broader publics as well as traditional academics. Drawing on an antioppressive pedagogical framework that addresses the problem of access to such cultural programming (much of which has been cancelled since the pandemic), the fellow will develop a virtual project that will be free and accessible to the public, creating offerings specifically geared for local community members, and designing elements of the project that will extend the project's reach and relevance for nearby urban populations especially affected by COVID-19. The fellow will help design and organize the Care Syllabus’s counter pedagogical model that breaks from typical hierarchical structures of academia. The fellow will work with the "guest curators" of each of the modules to develop their content and conceive of its most accessible presentation online. Among invited "guest curators" are artist, activist, writer, performer, and educator Leah Lakshmi-Piepzna Samarsinha and multi-media artist Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke/Crow). The fellow will evaluate the impact of this type of programming which will form the basis of a sustainability plan with a tested framework for the modules.
“Disagreeable Mirror Though One May Be”: Portraits of James Baldwin, 1945-65
“Disagreeable Mirror Though One May Be” illuminates early portrait collaborations between the author and civil-rights activist, James Baldwin, and the visual artists who were his imagers, readers and friends, reconsidering Baldwin’s iconic status today through his impacts on the visual cultures of his time. Baldwin's portraits, this study argues, visually translated and critically inhabited his written repertoire of sagacious cultural analysis. Painters and photographers alike paralleled Baldwin’s literary strategies, developing distinctly modernist portrait vernaculars that put Baldwin's intersubjective insights and historical orientations to work. These ambitious experiments, which distill and interrogate the psychical stakes of civil rights era image making, are located squarely within and productively beyond American histories of feminist and conceptual art.