Screenprint of African American men and women standing together, right fists raised in the air, with the word

Barbara Jones-Hogu, Unite (First State) (detail), 1969. © Barbara Jones-Hogu, Courtesy Lusenhop Fine Art

‘It’s About Time the Art World Caught Up,’ and Other Stories

While “discovered” may be a bit of a misnomer, many older African American artists who have been working for decades are now starting to get their long-overdue recognition. Showing us the unique challenges that these artists face–being older may make traveling difficult and production slower, not to mention maintaining integrity in a world that suddenly demands more and more from you–the Times article in this week’s Required Reading provides valuable insight into the attitudes of those whose work is in high demand after years of being neglected, including the advice and admonishment from the incredible sculptor Melvin Edwards:

“You invent your own game—and then you push it forward. It’s about time the art world caught up.”

What We’re Reading

A curated selection of writing at the intersection of art, culture, and community, compiled each week by the editors of Storyboard.

Discovered After 70, Black Artists Find Success, Too, Has Its Price
By Hilarie M. Sheets, The New York Times

McArthur Binion had been creating art almost completely under the radar for four decades, handling his own occasional sales and raising two children in Chicago on a teaching salary. Now, Mr. Binion has been fully embraced by the mainstream art world — at the age of 72. His dealer is a prominent Chelsea gallery. Museums and international collectors are snapping up his large canvases, minimalist grids painted in oil stick over collages of personal documents.

Read “Discovered After 70... (external link)” by Hilarie M. Sheets.

What Happens to Community Bonds When a Neighborhood Gentrifies
By Tanvi Misra, Citylab

When a neighborhood gentrifies, existing residents may see positive effects—more affluent neighbors tend to bring safer streets and improved schools. But not everything changes for the better. Third-generation Graduate Hospital resident Rob Watson told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Inga Saffron that he lamented the lack of black friends his daughter had in school. “To him, the conversation about renaming the neighborhood feels like a useless exercise because it can’t restore the web of relationships he once enjoyed,” Saffron wrote.

Read “What Happens to Community Bonds... (external link)” by Tanvi Misra.

Day Job
By Mike Gardner, Medium

Private investigator. Subway conductor. Building superintendent. In Medium’s Day Job series, 12 accomplished authors discuss the years of the income-producing work they did to support their writing. From slicing soap in a luxury bath store to directing air strikes in Afghanistan, these authors discuss not only the jobs themselves, but also the ways they protected their time and creativity from the demands of their full-time careers.

Read “Day Job (external link)” by Mike Gardner.

The Guantánamo Spot
By Erin Thompson, The Point

I was filming a segment for a satirical news show on Comedy Central. The sidewalk shot was for my introduction. When the piece aired, my name and title would scroll across my chest like a beauty contestant’s sash: Erin Thompson, Professor, John Jay College. I was being interviewed because I had curated an exhibit of artwork made by detainees at the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Read “The Guantánamo Spot (external link)” by Erin Thompson.

Ghost World
By Rachel Ossip, n+1

Have you ever opened a JPEG as a text file? If not, find a stray image, something from your desktop. I’m using a photo my father texted to me, of a hospital bill (mine) accidentally mailed to his address.

If you’ll need your image later, make a copy. Then rename the file, change the extension from .jpg to .txt, and open it.

Read “Ghost World (external link)” by Rachel Ossip.

About this Series

A curated selection of writing at the intersection of art, culture, and community, compiled each week by the editors of editors of Storyboard.