Monday, January 26, 2009

Jamel Shabazz in Conversation with Thomas Allen Harris at The Powerhouse Arena


The powerHouse Arena is pleased to invite you to a Black History Month talk

Jamel Shabazz in Conversation

with Thomas Allen Harris

Tuesday, February 3, 2009, 6–9PM
The powerHouse Arena,

37 Main Street, Brooklyn

For more information: (718) 666-3049


The powerHouse Arena invites you to a discussion with Jamel Shabazz, author of Back in the Days, A Time Before Crack, Last Sunday in June, and Seconds of My Life, published by powerHouse Books, and Thomas Allen Harris, producer, director, and co-writer of Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, a documentary that explores the work of African-American photographers. Shabazz will present his photography and Harris will screen the trailer for Through a Lens Darkly, to illustrate the influence of African American photographers.

About Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People:

Award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and artist, Thomas Allen Harris, is currently in production with his fourth feature-length documentary, Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People. Co-produced by noted scholar, curator, and author, Deborah Willis PhD, Through A Lens Darkly, is the first documentary and multimedia outreach project that explores how African-American communities have used the medium of photography to construct political, aesthetic, and cultural representations of themselves and their world. The Through A Lens Darkly project is part of a new generation of interactive media that expands the boundaries of participatory filmmaking by using both traditional documentary and multimedia platforms to engage television and internet audiences in new, creative, and transformative ways.

In Finnegan’s Wake, James Joyce wrote: “History is the nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Through A Lens Darkly is about contemporary African-American artists probing the recesses of the American nightmare by interrogating images of stories suppressed, forgotten, and lost; and how they engage African-American history in their work. Artists include Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligon, Lyle Ashton Harris, Hank Willis Thomas, Coco Fusco, Anthony Barboza, Clarissa Sligh, Jamel Shabazz, Deborah Willis, and many more.

The film will interweave contemporary artists discussing their inspirations and creative process with the

stories of pioneering black men and women photographers, whose images helped reclaim the collective self worth and humanity of African Americans. Moving between the realms of the present and the past, Through A Lens Darkly will reveal black photography as an instrument for social change, as a pointed African-American perspective on American history, and as a particularized aesthetic vision. Our hope is that Through A Lens Darkly will provoke contemporary audiences to think simultaneously about the progressive and repressive capabilities of photography. For instance: how do we begin to think critically about images of black people, of black history, and about images in general? How much are our ideas about race supported and constructed by photographic images that we believe to be true or that we assume to be true without understanding how constructed they are? In the words of one artist, “This is an issue of visual literacy. An image is never just an image. It has a background, a context, a history.” Through A Lens Darkly is an active experience, where audiences are engaged as collaborative partners rather than passive viewers.

The Through A Lens Darkly production team is joining forces with a diverse contingent of media arts and social justice organizations from across North America to empower families of the African Diaspora

to uncover, preserve, and share photographic images that authentically depict our lives – past, present, and future. All are welcome to visit to learn how they can participate in this innovative multimedia project

About Jamel Shabazz:

Jamel Shabazz’s work has appeared in publications such as The Source, Vibe, Trace, British Elle, Jalouse, Dune, GQ, and French Vogue. In addition, his photographs have been exhibited in Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes, and Rage at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, at Xhibiton Transition in Chicago, and at Trace Magazine: True Signs in Paris. Shabazz is a Teaching Artist with the Rush Arts Foundation, where he mentors at-risk youth. He is a philanthropist who supports organizations like The Harlem Art Project, The Queens Council on the Arts, and Project Hope. He has published four books with powerHouse: Back in the Days, A Time Before Crack, Last Sunday in June, and Seconds of My Life (2001, 2005, 2003, and 2007). Shabazz was born in Red Hook, Brooklyn, in 1960.

About Thomas Allen Harris:

Thomas Allen Harris, producer, director, co-writer, was born in the Bronx and raised in New York City and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program. His documentary films, installations, and experimental videos have been featured in venues across the international landscape on television, at festivals, museums and galleries. His most recent film, Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela, premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, won Best Documentary at the Pan-African and the Santa Cruz Film Festivals, the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking at the Roxbury Film Festival, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award before being broadcast nationally on the POV documentary series as well as Swedish and New Zealand Television. His previous film, É Minha Cara/That’s My Face (2001), premiered at the Toronto, Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals and won seven international awards, including the Best Documentary at Outfest and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury of Christian Churches at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival. The film was broadcast on the Sundance Channel as well as on ARTE, the CBC, and YLE. Mr. Harris is a recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including the United States Artist Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, Rockefeller Fellowship, as well as CPB/PBS and Sundance Directors Fellowships. Harris was a tenured Associate Professor at the University of California, San Diego and a Visiting Professor of Film and New Media at Sarah Lawrence College. He worked as a staff producer for WNET/Thirteen, public television in New York, prior to founding Chimpanzee Productions, Inc., a company dedicated to producing unique visual experiences to illuminate the human condition and the search for identity, family and spirituality. Chimpanzee Productions is currently developing several new projects, including the features, Tears From Lagos and On the DL, as well as Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People.

For more information, please contact Viviana Morizet,

37 Main Street Brooklyn, NY 11201-1021 tel 718 666 3049 email

SOURCE: Powerhouse Books

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ogden Museum of Southern Art shows Folk Artist Clementine Hunter

NEW ORLEANS, LA - The Ogden Museum of Southern Art announces the acquisition of three major works by the famed Louisiana painter Clementine Hunter (1886 –1988). The first addition is entitled “Flowing River” – one of the largest known works by the artist. The second is a rare piece, “Cotton to Gin and Baptism,” that is painted back to back. Of note, on the work’s reverse side, “Baptism” features a seldom seen palette of pinks, vivid yellows, red and white. Local collectors Dr. Jerry and Carolyn Fortino donated the paintings to the museum.

“The other Clementine Hunter works at this scale and significance are installed at African House at Melrose Plantation in Natchitoches, La.,” says Ogden Director J. Richard Gruber. “This donation by Dr. Jerry and Carolyn Fortino makes these important works accessible to a larger public for the first time.”

These unknown works are an important addition to the museum’s holdings of Hunter’s work, which also includes "A Funeral at Isle Brevelle" from the Roger Houston Ogden Collection. She became the first African-American artist to have a solo exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art and was invited to the White House by President Jimmy Carter.

Dr. Fortino vividly remembers acquiring Flowing River at an auction 39 years ago. “We bought it in 1970,” recalls Fortino. “We drove to Natchitoches and bought an olive jar, a quilt and a giant 8-foot-tall Clementine Hunter. During the auction I raised my hand up and didn’t put it down.”

Hunter was born at Hidden Hill plantation, near Cloutierville, Louisiana. She lived and worked in Northwest Louisiana at Melrose Plantation, which had become an artist colony directed by Francois Mignon. Using paints left behind by visiting artists, Hunter began to create her own work in 1939. Her paintings were often small, usually no larger than 18” by 24”. Her subject was the daily life on Melrose Plantation. Hunter utilized all sorts of discarded items as a canvas, including bottles, cardboard and gourds. Visit the Ogden Museum of Southern Art at :

Source: AKN

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Obama “Hope” portrait goes to Washington

The red and blue stencilled portrait of President Elect Obama by street artist Shepard Fairey, which became the central image of the election campaign, has been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC for its collection. It is the first portrait of the new president to enter the national collection, part of the Smithsonian Institute.

The original work was given to the museum by the Washington-based lobbyists and collectors Heather and Tony Podesta, whose brother John is the co-chairman of Obama’s administration transition team. It was given in memory of Mr Podesta’s late mother, who was a supporter of Obama since his 2004 campaign to win a Senate seat.

“This work is an emblem of a significant election, as well as a new presidency,” said Martin Sullivan, director of the National Portrait Gallery in a press statement. A spokeswoman for the National Portrait Gallery says the work will be on view in the museum’s first floor gallery in time for Obama’s inauguration on 20 January.

SOURCE: The Art Newspaper