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Curated by Bridget R. Cooks, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of African American Studies and the Department of Art History, University of California, Irvine.
Exhibition and tour organized by Sarah Watson, Chief Curator, Hunter College Art Galleries, New York in collaboration with the University Art Galleries at UC Irvine, Palo Alto Art Center, and Art Galleries at Black Studies, University of Texas at Austin.
For more information about The Black Index programming and exhibition tour visit the website.
“‘We exist in other ways… to see us, to find us’ – UC Irvine debuts ‘The Black Index’ exhibition” in the LA Times January 16, 2021.
About the Exhibition
The Hunter College Art Galleries are pleased to announce the traveling group exhibition The Black Index featuring the work of Dennis Delgado, Alicia Henry, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Titus Kaphar, Whitfield Lovell, and Lava Thomas. The artists included in The Black Index build upon the tradition of Black self-representation as an antidote to colonialist images. Using drawing, performance, printmaking, sculpture, and digital technology to transform the recorded image, these artists question our reliance on photography as a privileged source for documentary objectivity and understanding. Their works offer an alternative practice—a Black index—that still serves as a finding aid for information about Black subjects, but also challenges viewers’ desire for classification.
The works in The Black Index make viewers aware of their own expectations of Black figuration by interrupting traditional epistemologies of portraiture through unexpected and unconventional depictions. These works image the Black body through a conceptual lens that acknowledges the legacy of Black containment that is always present in viewing strategies. The approaches used by Delgado, Henry, Hinkle, Kaphar, Lovell, and Thomas suggest understandings of Blackness and the racial terms of our neo-liberal condition that counter legal and popular interpretations and, in turn, offer a paradigmatic shift within Black visual culture.
The Black Index is dedicated to David C. Driskell.
University Art Galleries at UCI
January 9, 2021 – March 20, 2021 (online only)
Palo Alto Art Center
May 1 – August 22, 2021
Art Galleries at Black Studies, University of Texas at Austin
September 16 – December 12, 2021
Hunter College Art Galleries, Leubsdorf Gallery
February 1 – April 3, 2022
About the Publication
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Hunter College Art Galleries with Hirmer Publishers are producing a comprehensive full color illustrated catalogue (available spring 2021.) Edited by Bridget R. Cooks and Sarah Watson, the publication includes a comprehensive curatorial essay by Bridget R. Cooks PhD., with additional essays by CalvinJohn Smiley, PhD. Assistant Professor in the Sociology department at Hunter College, CUNY and Sarah Watson, as well as artist bios written by Re’al Christian, Hunter College MA Art History/Curatorial Certificate Candidate and Ella Turenne, Visual Studies PhD. Candidate UC Irvine. The publication for The Black Index will be available through University of Chicago Press and Thames and Hudson.
Lead support for The Black Index is provided by The Ford Foundation with additional support by UCI Confronting Extremism Program, Getty Research Institute, Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, Carol and Arthur Goldberg, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, Leubsdorf Fund at Hunter College, Joan Lazarus Fellowship program at Hunter College, Loren and Mike Gordon, Pamela and David Hornik, University of California Office of the President Multi-campus Research Programs and Initiative Funding, University of California Humanities Research Institute, Applied Materials Foundation, Illuminations: The Chancellor’s Arts and Culture Initiative, UCI Humanities Center, Department of African American Studies, Department of Art History, The Reparations Project, the Lehman Foundation, and the UC Irvine Black Alumni Chapter. The Black Index was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities., visit calhum.org, and was funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
About the Artists
Dennis Delgado was born in the South Bronx and received an MFA from the City College of New York (CUNY). His work examines the ideologies of colonialism and their historical presence in the current moment. Whether working with video games, drone images, or looking at historical sites (such as the Bronx Zoo), his practice reflects on the Eurocentric perspectives present in popular institutions and in American visual culture. His work has been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and at the Cooper Union.
Alicia Henry received her B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute and an M.F.A. from Yale University. She has garnered numerous awards and grants from various foundations including the Ford Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. She has exhibited at the Cheekwood Museum and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Henry currently teaches at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle is an interdisciplinary visual artist, writer and performer. Her artwork and experimental writing has been exhibited and performed at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Project Row Houses, The Hammer Museum, The Museum of Art at The University of New Hampshire, The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco, The Made in LA 2012 Biennial and The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Hinkle’s work has been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Artforum, Hyperallergic, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post and The New York Times. She is also the recipient of several awards including: The Cultural Center for Innovation’s Investing in Artists Grant, Social Practice in Art (SPart-LA), Jacob K Javits Fellowship for Graduate Study, The Fulbright Student Fellowship, and The Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artists Award.
Titus Kaphar was born in 1976 in Kalamazoo, MI and lives and works in New Haven, CT. Kaphar received an MFA from the Yale School of Art and is a distinguished recipient of numerous prizes and awards including the MacArthur Fellowship (2018), Art for Justice Fund grant (2018), Robert R. Rauschenberg Artist as Activist grant (2016), and Creative Capital grant (2015). Kaphar’s work, Analogous Colors (2020), was featured on the cover of the June 15, 2020 issue of TIME. He gave a TED talk at the annual conference in Vancouver 2017, where he completed one of his whitewash paintings, Shifting the Gaze, onstage. Kaphar’s work has been included in solo exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, MoMA PS1 and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, among others. His work is included in the collections of Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, AK; the 21C Museum Collection; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; and the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami, FL, amongst others.
Whitfield Lovell is internationally renowned for his installations that incorporate masterful Conté crayon portraits of anonymous African Americans from between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Movement. In 2007, Lovell was awarded with a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. Works by Lovell are featured in major museum collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, DC; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, PA; The Yale University Art Gallery; The Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN; The Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Seattle Art Museum, WA, and many others.
Lava Thomas was born in Los Angeles, CA. She studied at UCLA’s School of Art Practice and received a BFA from California College of the Arts. Thomas is a recipient of the 2020 San Francisco Artadia Award and a Lucas Artists Fellowship Award at Montalvo Arts Center (2019-2021). Thomas has participated in artist residencies at Facebook Los Angeles (2020), Headlands Center for the Arts (2018) and the Djerassi Resident Artist Program. In 2015, she received the Joan Mitchell Grant for Painters and Sculptors. Thomas’s work is included in the National Portrait Gallery’s triennial exhibition, The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today. Her work has been exhibited in various institutions including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., the International Print Center, New York, NY; the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA; and the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the United States Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; the M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA and the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA. Thomas's work has been written about in Artforum, Hyperallergic, SF Chronicle, The Guardian, KQED Arts, The Art Newspaper, and LA Weekly.
About the Curator
Bridget R. Cooks is Associate Professor in UC Irvine’s Department of African American Studies and Department of Art History. Cooks' research focuses on African American art and culture, Black visual culture, museum criticism, film, feminist theory and post-colonial theory. She holds a Ph.D. from the Visual and Cultural Studies Program at the University of Rochester and has received a number of awards, grants and fellowships for her work, including the prestigious James A. Porter & David C. Driskell Book Award in African American Art History for her book Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum (University of Massachusetts: 2011) and the Henry Luce Dissertation Fellowship in American Art. Some of her other publications can be found in Afterall, Afterimage, American Studies, Aperture, and American Quarterly. Her next book is titled, Norman Rockwell: The Civil Rights Paintings.
Cooks has also curated several exhibitions including The Art of Richard Mayhew at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco (2009-2010); Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California (2018) at the Pasadena Museum of California Art; and Ernie Barnes: A Retrospective (2019) at the California African American Museum (CAAM). Prior to her appointment at UCI, she taught in the Department of Art and Art History and the Program of Ethnic Studies at Santa Clara University. She also served as museum educator for the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Gallery Hours