The Black School at the New Museum

By Peggy Roalf   Friday May 11, 2018

The New Museum, now in its 40thyear, is known for presenting confrontational art by living artists—the kind of work that is not easily adopted by traditional art museums. In 1990 it produced the exhibition, Have You Attacked America Today?, Erika Rothenberg’s parody of dissent and freedom of speech, complete with flag-burning kits; in 1998 it mounted the first solo show of Colombian artist Doris Salcedo’s work, 17 years before a full retrospective was organized by the Guggenheim; and in 2002 the Quasi-cinemas of Hélio Oiticica, 15 years before the Whitney’s recent retrospective.

Lean and scrappy from the start, the New Museum was poised to act as a catalyst for a broad dialogue between artists and the public through exhibitions and public programs organized around important social and political issues. Today in its namesake, but still lean building on the Bowery, the museum continues its public engagement programs through fellowships in which emerging artists tackle issues that effect their immediate neighbors as members of the world at large.



This year’s summer art and social justice residency include the Black School (Joseph Cuillier and Shani Peters) with fellow Kameelah Janan Rasheed. The Black School is an experimental art school that uses black history to educate black and POC students and allies on how to become radical agents of social and political change. The three artists will explore the pasts and futures of critical black pedagogies along with presentations and public programs. Photo: courtesy the New Museum

Looking to examples of pit schools and other covert learning structures in the United States, as well as the Freedom Schools of 1964, the Oakland Community School, and early twentieth-century black literary societies, Cuillier and Peters will realize two interconnected projects in an installation on the museum’s Fifth Floor. The Black School will reimagine a traditional classroom space for art-making workshops rooted in creative activist tactics. 

Meanwhile, drawing from the local histories of her hometown of East Palo Alto, CA, writer/educator/visual artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed will build a kinesthetic learning environment containing an installation with text, objects, and video, as well as a resource library equipped with a Xerox and a Risograph machine, to consider black traditions of independent schools, publishing, and radical imagination. Working with the museum's  Teen Apprentice Program, the artists will facilitate a newly developed curriculum through public and private workshops, programs, and classes for youth and adults throughout the residency. All programs with Rasheed here

Among the public programs announced so far:

Library Hours in the Resource Room with Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Thursday May 31, August 23, and September 6, 7–8:30 PM
Saturday June 23 and July 21, 3–5 PM
Educator and artist-in-residence Kameelah Janan Rasheed shares materials from her personal archival collection of printed matter, including small press publications, magazine articles on independent black schools, textbooks and curriculum sets from the mid-1970s, course catalogues, independent black periodicals, and contemporary texts. During these library hours, visitors are welcome to explore the archival materials and engage in informal discussions.

Publishing Center
Thursdays June 7–July 12 (excluding July 5), 6:30–8:30 PM
This free series, taught by Rasheed, restages the publishing center from her elementary school to focus on black traditions of self-publishing, literacy, and independent schools. The series focuses on historical inquiry and experimentation with printing and binding techniques, with practical application toward a final product and its dissemination. Sessions include: 1. History of Black Publishing and Printing 2. The Xerox Machine and Radical Movements 3. The Risograph Machine 4. Bookmaking and Bookbinding 5. Bookmaking and Bookbinding Continued, and Dissemination. 

The New Museum, 235 Bowery, New York, NY Info


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