week of 12/7: Kwanzaa and Faith Ringgold’s visual art

For Monday 12/7, we’ll (almost) wrap the semester with a look at Kwanzaa, the festival founded by Maulana Karenga and the US Organization.
 
We’ll have our last guest speaker of the semester, Dr. Segun Shabaka, to talk about the Kwanzaa tradition and its practice by the National Association of Kawaida Organizations (NAKO) in Brooklyn.
 
ReadRoots and Branches” and “The Seven Principles” (Nguzo Saba) from the official Kwanzaa website.
 
Watch Dr. Greg Kimathi Carr, chair of Howard University’s Department of Afro American Studies interviewed by Salim Adofo in this 29-minute TV show.
 

 
Optional: Read Floyd Hayes and Judson Jeffries’s “US Does Not Stand for United Slaves!” (PDF on the Readings page.)
 Further Resources: See Historian Keith Mayes’ Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Black Holiday Tradition for a comprehensive look at the evolution of the celebration. Scot Brown’s Fighting For US is the definitive historical source on the US Organization.
 

Faith Ringgold, The Black Arts Movement. From the Art in Context website.

For Wednesday 12/9, we continue looking at visual art of the Black Arts Movement with a look at Faith Ringgold. Ringgold has become known for her story quilts, but we’re going to look at some earlier work from her “American People” and “Black Light” series of works from the 1960s to early 1970s. Read the 2 pdf files from Ringgold’s autobiography We Flew Over the Bridge. (Both PDFs on the Readings page; book is also at Wexler Library and the NY Public Library system).

Next view the images in the embedded PowerPoint file from the 2 series (which you can also download as a PDF):


  • What do you see?
  • Why is it appealing to you?
  • How does this work represent the ideas of the Black Arts Movement? (Does it?)
  • What are the similarities and differences between her work and that of Emory Douglas?
  • Who is represented in the pictures? Who isn’t?
  • Choose 2 images to create a short narrative about. What themes of the course and Black Arts Movement do you see represented?

    Our last class is on Monday December 14 and will be a wrap-up/review for the final exam. The final is on Monday, December 21 from 6:20-8:20 PM in our usual room. This follows Hunter’s standard Fall 2015 Final Exam Schedule-1 (PDF). Note the earlier start time and plan ahead — especially if you need to leave work early!

    Notes/Reminders: Remember that there’s a paper due next week. Also, the documentary Baddddd Sonia Sanchez is screening on Sunday 12/13 at the African Disapora Film Festival.

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    Week of 11/25: Faith Ringgold’s visual art

    Faith Ringgold, The Black Arts Movement. From the Art in Context website.

    For Monday 12/2, we continue looking at visual art of the Black Arts Movement with a look at Faith Ringgold. Ringgold has become known for her story quilts, but we’re going to look at some earlier work from her “American People” and “Black Light” series of works from the 1960s to early 1970s. Read the 2 pdf files from Ringgold’s autobiography We Flew Over the Bridge. (Both PDFs on the Readings page; book is also at Wexler Library and the NY Public Library system).

    Next view the images in the embedded PowerPoint file from the 2 series (which you can also download as a PDF):


  • What do you see?
  • Why is it appealing to you?
  • How does this work represent the ideas of the Black Arts Movement? (Does it?)
  • What are the similarities and differences between her work and that of Emory Douglas?
  • Who is represented in the pictures? Who isn’t?
  • Choose 2 images to create a short narrative about. What themes of the course and Black Arts Movement do you see represented?

    For Thursday 12/5, we’ll have our last guest speaker of the semester to talk about the US Organization and the influence of the Black Arts Movement on his music. James Mtume joined the US Organization and came to prominence in the music world as a member of Miles Davis’s band during Davis’s electric period from 1971-1975. He later led his own band (called Mtume), which became well known for the heavily sampled song “Juicy Fruit”. More recently, he was an on-air personality on the “Open Line” show on New York City’s WBLS FM radio.

    Read Floyd Hayes and Judson Jeffries’s “US Does Not Stand for United Slaves!” (PDF on the Readings page.)

    Week of 10/14: Baraka’s The Slave and Black Arts Drama

    “Die” by Faith Ringgold, 1967. From her “American People” series. From the Art in Context Website.


    Class, of course, does not meet on Monday because of the holiday.

    Tuesday 10/15, however is a Monday schedule in CUNY, so we meet as we normally would, as do all your other Monday classes. The main assignment is to read Baraka’s play The Slave, which is a follow-up to Dutchman both chronologically, and in terms of where the conclusions it takes toward struggle and society. Think about the differences between the two plays and also the autobiographical elements we’ve discussed and what it meant for Baraka — then Jones — to write such a play. (Ex-wife Hettie Jones refers to The Slave as “Roi’s nightmare” in her own autobiography.) Look at Ringgold’s Die in that context. What might be the end result, according to Ringgold’s vision?

    View this trailer for the Revolution ’67 documentary on the Newark rebellion. Baraka had moved back to Newark by 1967 and was extremely politically active. In a sense, The Slave both responds to the times and also offers a premonition of what is to come.

    Listen to “Who Will Survive America?” by Baraka from his 1972 It’s Nation Time! album on Black Forum Records (a subsidiary of Motown), which perfectly captures the mood of the time. Who will survive America and the tensions that are erupting in the 1960s? Listen to the lyrics: note that he moves from “survive, Black man/ Black woman too” to “all survive”. What do you think he’s getting at here? Read the corresponding section on It’s Nation Time in Pat Thomas’s Listen Whitey! book (pages 45-49).



    Finally Watch Baraka perform his poem “It’s Nation Time!”, which he reads here with almost evangelistic zeal in the early 1970s. on an artistic level, think about the difference between this and his performance of the poem “Black Art”, with drummer Sonny Murray on Sonny’s Time Now that we listened to earlier on. How has his style evolved?


    On Thursday, October 17, we continue with drama from the Black Arts Movement. Read Jimmy Garrett’s We own the Night (p. 527) in Black Fire!. Also read the 4-page section on the short-lived Black Arts Repertory Theater/School from Komozi Woodard’s Baraka bio Nation Within a Nation, which is a PDF on the Readings page. In the wake of Malcolm X’s assassination, Baraka left his wife (and children) in the bohemian, artsy scene of Greenwich Village for Harlem to become better connected with the struggle and immerse himself in a Black community. The BARTS experiment was short-lived (and in some ways disastrous), but an important learning experience, extremely important symbolically, and represented a full commitment to the struggle. For these readings, think about the following:

  • The development of a revolutionary theater that’s attempting to follow a “Black Aesthetic”
  • How does this play deal with the changing racial view of the times?
  • How does it deal with the issues of masculinity and Malcolm X’s warning of a “New Negro”?
  • How does it show the difference in thought between different generations?
  • How does it represent the theme (and worldwide trend) of revolution?
  • After reading the play, listen to “When the Revolution Comes” by The Last Poets from their self-titled first album, released in 1970 by Douglas Records.

    Week of 11/26: Visual Arts and the Black Arts – Romare Bearden and Faith Ringgold

    For Monday 11/26, we continue looking at the visual art connections of the Black Arts Movement with a presentation by Diedra Harris-Kelley, co-director of the Romare Bearden Foundation, which oversees Bearden’s vast legacy of work and coordinates many exhibits.

    Viewing/ readings:

    Romare Bearden in his studio. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art. nga.gov

  • Read the Bearden Biography then look at the Timeline on the Bearden Foundation website. Pay special attention to the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Look at some of Bearden’s collages in the Art section of the site. Pay particular attention to “The Block”.
  • Read Bearden’s essay “The Negro Artist and Modern Art” (3-page PDF on the Readings page)
  • Read a brief excerpt from Sharon Patton’s African American Artists book. (6 page PDF on Readings page)
  • Faith Ringgold, The Black Arts Movement. From the Art in Context website.

    For Thursday 11/29, Read the 2 pdf files from Lisa E. Farrington’s Creating Their Own Image: The History of African American Women Artists. (Both PDFs on the Readings page; book is also at Wexler Library). Next, do a Google image search for Faith Ringgold’s images from her “Black Light” or “American People” series of works. As a start, you can try this page that came up when I searched.

    Browse the small thumbnail pictures then choose 2-3 to look at carefully. What do you see? Why is it appealing to you? Who is represented? How does this work represent the ideas of the Black Arts Movement? What are the similarities and differences between her work and that of Douglas and Bearden? Either save the images of your 2-3 favorites to your phone, tablet, or laptop and bring them to class or (if you have to) print them out. (You only need to bring 2-3; not all of them.) You will need the images to talk about them in class.

    Presentation by Cookie, Arabia, Syreeta, and Lezlye on visual art.

    Reminders/ announcements: Remember that a short proposal for your paper topic was due on Monday via e-mail: some of you still haven’t submitted them yet. Next, a preliminary list of sources you expect to use is due. (see the assignment sheet for details). Lastly, I’ve put together a list of events outside the class [Edit: Google doc here] I’m asking you to attend as a replacement for one of the classes we missed. You only need to go to one. Details on the Resources page later on Wednesday 11/21 so I can add hyperlinks and a few more options.

    Enjoy the holiday and, as usual, holla at me with questions.

    Update for the Weeks of 4/30-5/7

    "Die" by Faith Ringgold, 1967. From her "American People" series. From the Art in Context Website.


    Today (Monday), we finished up the segment on film and are now moving on to visual art.

    For Thursday, Read the 2 pdf files from Lisa E. Farrington’s Creating Their Own Image: The History of African American Women Artists (Both PDFs on the Readings page). Next, do a Google image search for Faith Ringgold’s images from her “Black Light” or “American People” series of works. As a start, you can try this page that came up when I searched.

    Browse the small thumbnail pictures then choose 2-3 to look at carefully. What do you see? Why is it appealing to you? How does this work represent the ideas of the Black Arts Movement? Either save the images of your 2-3 favorites to your phone, tablet, or laptop and bring them to class or (if you have to) print them out. (You only need to bring 2-3; not all of them.) You will need the images to talk about them in class.

    Presentation by Geovanna on film.

    For Monday, May 7th, Read Collette Gaiter’s article “Visualizing a Revolution: Emory Douglas and The Black Panther Newspaper” on the AIGA website and Emory Douglas’s “Position Paper #1 on Revolutionary Art” (Position_Paper_on_Revolutionary_Art_No1). Also view the Emory Douglas images collected on the LA Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibition website. As before, choose 2-3 to bring in to class and discuss.

    Presentation by Keston and Ivan on visual art.

    Thursday, May 10 is our last official day of class. Final papers are due (electronically) and there is no additional reading assignment. We’ll have a formal review session for the final exam.