Thursday, March 24, 2011

def.Black Art Scholar: Undefined Anomaly

Overwhelmed by Her Beauty & Art. Kenyan Artist Wangachi Mutu for US Vogue. 

If you're black and reading this, chances are you're an anomaly.  Apparently, black people are into the consumption and creation of art, but much less so the study of art (although a strong counter-argument is that creating art is as much a study as scholarly deliberation is and perhaps, a more useful indulgence in art academe?). And what does this have to do with reading this blog exactly? Well, nothing. Sort of. Just a great opening line, don't you think? You are still reading, so...

But seriously, according to scholars at Parsons School of Design, "Black artists and designers are at the cutting edge of contemporary culture, but their cultural histories continue to be a marginal presence in art and design schools." This phenomenon is not just at the professional level, it's also in the student body that makes up prestigious design schools such as Parsons, where diversity (I love that word...translation: black people) is a challenge (translation: are in short supply).

W. Mutu. Epiglotus II. 2007. 

My gut reaction is anecdotal.

How many bright young Africans do you know who are encouraged to study anything outside of math+science? I was just breaking it down to someone recently that my life choices from the age of about 2.5yrs were pretty well defined, and they even came complete with a pre-vetted pecking order package: 1. Doctor 1.5. Lawyer. 2. Some kind of hard science PhD. 3.Engineer, nothing new-fangly like industrial engineering, who knows--you may be tempted to design stuff with a title like that 4. Okey, just a PhD. 5. What five? you see how many choice we've given you here? 

And with that, my friends, I present you the interesting African conundrum I've morphed into.

Also known as undefined=neither of the above.

Laughs aside, Parson's community is coming  together to think through some issues raised here in what promises to be a provocative and pertinent dialog at a two-day conference this weekend, March 26& 27th, in New York.

Stop by why dointcha?

Stephen Kellen Auditorium at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
Parsons, 66 Fifth Avenue, New York City.
FREE and open to the public.

And Yes, Please.  Do Rage with Jealousy--the anomaly is apparently just that stunning, celebrated Kenyan Artist Wangachi Mutu dong her thing. Life Magazine Image.

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