The "Art" Of Black Visual Archives – Who Has Them? Where Are They?

The "Art" Of Black Visual Archives – Who Has Them? Where Are They?

For this panel, we assembled five of the nation’s top African American arts museum directors and curators for a thought provoking discussion on the role of history collectors versus history preservers as well as the historic role of the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Schomburg Library and other artistic and cultural organizations. From Jacob Lawrence to Bennie Andrews, the black visual arts archive has also been challenged to properly document the lives and careers of African American visual artists. The panel The “Art” of Black Visual Archives: Who Has Them? Where Are They? examines the importance of preserving and telling the history of black artists and photographers as well as other culturally important people, institutions and movements. Moderated by the Director of The Studio Museum in Harlem Thelma Golden, the discussion includes the founder of Chicago’s Rebuild Foundation, Theaster Gates, the Director of Los Angeles’ Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the Director of the Perez Art Museum, Miami Franklin Sirmans, and African American photo historian, curator, and photographer, Deborah Willis. The panel also features a Q&A session with questions from The HistoryMakers ArtMakers Advisory Committee.

This 90-minute program is scheduled to stream on YouTube and Facebook Live at 12:00 noon EST on Thursday, December 3, 2020 as the third installment of The HistoryMakers 20@2020: 20 Days and 20 Nights Convening and Celebration.


  1. I’m interested to know what efforts those in this group discussion have reached out to black artist like myself out in rural areas who have no platform but our farm fields along State highways. I ended up building a 16 ft tall by 120ft long fence to use as a public viewing space for my range of creative projects and writing. Here in the PNW, we have no institutions beyond a few struggling non profits, gathering our regional artifacts. The only city in America founded by a black man that’s still thriving, Centralia, WA and Lewis County has been the home of many black artists who left Seattle, Portland and Tacoma and have been silently doing their thing. It’s sad to hear their words of frustration and listen to this conversation and realize the archives, including my own gathered collection, get dumped because black folks our 1% of the population. I wish some of you well resourced black artists and leaders would pay attention and seek out rural black artists. We are doing great work amongst ourselves from a perspective I don’t hear or see here.

  2. Thank you History Makers for assembling this legendary panel… I received so much insight. I’ve studied with Professor Kalia Brooks @ Columbia University I hope you will add her to the next panel, she’s excellent as well.

  3. Thanks for the inspiration! This really chimes with inspirations I take for my independent music, it’s so nice to see this kind of work out there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.