Black Arts Movement: Examined

Black Arts Movement: Examined

Harlem Stage

April 14, 2023
Black Arts Movement: Examined
Black Arts Movement—Examined Visual Arts: April 20, 7–8:30pm, Zoom discussion
Black Arts Movement—Then and Now Conference: May 18–20
Harlem Stage and Park Avenue Armory, New York
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During the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and early 70s, many artists of color responded to the racial and economic oppression, the assassinations, the discrimination, and the continuing affront to their humanity with artworks—in music, dance, poetry, theater, and visual arts—that affirmed their humanity. Some of these artists joined groups while others made work alone in their studios that were identity-affirming and insistent in their call for social justice. Some of these works were considered a part of a Black Nationalist aesthetic.

This special Black Arts Movement: Examined presentation on the visual arts features scholar and Associate Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, Michael Sawyer, in a free Zoom event and conversation with Harlem Stage Artistic Director & CEO Pat Cruz that will examine the impact and legacy of the visual arts during this period and the resonant artistic responses to the Black Power and Black Lives Matter movements.

Harlem Stage examines the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s to the 1970s, and its relationship to race, gender, sexuality, music, photography, film, poetry, theater, and dance, as well as its intersectionality with the larger Black Power Movement. The Black Arts Movement was a cultural movement led by Black artists, activists, and intellectuals that shaped the ideologies of Black identity, political beliefs, and African American culture.

Inspired, and curated by Harlem Stage Associate Artistic Director/Artist-in-Residence, Carl Hancock Rux, the Black Arts Movement: Then and Now Conference is a three-day event with panels, discussions, essays, and performances, featuring pioneers and visionary artists including Angela Davis, Nona Hendryx, Sonia Sanchez, Henry Threadgill, Stew, Toshi Reagon, and more, and a closing-night concert co-presented with Park Avenue Armory, curated by Carl Hancock Rux, Tavia Nyong’o, and Vernon Reid, with contributions by Carrie Mae Weems, Stefanie Batten Bland, Dianne Smith, Shantelle Courvoisier Jackson, Nona Hendryx, Somi, Wunmi, Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber honoring Greg Tate, and more. In conversations between pioneers of the Black Arts Movement and a contemporary generation of artists and scholars, the Black Arts Movement Conference centers itself within a dialogue that is both historically and culturally relevant in our ever-changing world.

Harlem Stage is the performing arts center that bridges Harlem’s cultural legacy to contemporary artists of color and dares to provide the artistic freedom that gives birth to new ideas. For nearly 40 years our singular mission has been to perpetuate and celebrate the unique and diverse artistic legacy of Harlem and the indelible impression it has made on American culture. We provide opportunity, commissioning, and support for visionary artists of color, make performances easily accessible to all audiences and introduce children to the rich diversity, excitement, and inspiration of the performing arts. We fulfill our mission through commissioning, incubating, and presenting innovative and vital work that responds to the historical and contemporary conditions that shape our lives and the communities we serve.

With a long-standing tradition of supporting artists and organizations around the corner and across the globe, Harlem Stage boasts such legendary artists as Harry Belafonte, Max Roach, Sekou Sundiata, Abbey Lincoln, Sonia Sanchez, Eddie Palmieri, Maya Angelou, and Tito Puente, as well as contemporary artists like Mumu Fresh, Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité, Xian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Tamar kali, Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jason Moran, José James, Nona Hendryx, Bill T. Jones, and more. Our education programs serve over 2,300 New York City schoolchildren each year.

The New York Times has saluted Harlem Stage as “an invaluable incubator of talent” and we have been hailed as an organization still unafraid to take risks. Our investment in this visionary talent is often awarded in the early stages of many artists’ careers and we proudly celebrate their increasing success. Five members of our artist family have joined the ranks of MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship awardees: Kyle Abraham (2013), Vijay Iyer (2013), Jason Moran (2010), Bill T. Jones (1994), and Cecil Taylor (1991).

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Harlem Stage
April 14, 2023

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