In 2012, the West Harlem Art Fund produced an installation with French artist Patrick Singh at the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan. As we prepared this digital installation, the Questionbridge exhibition was being installed at the Brooklyn Museum. Their project deals with Black male identity. I asked several members of the team to review the works being presented by Patrick Singh and share their thoughts about his views on Black identity. Below are the interviews about Patrick’s works. Also added is Harlem-based artist Dianne Smith who has worked with our organization several times and who is apart of the exhibition I found God in Myself — the 40th anniversary of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The Questionbridge exhibition is at the Schomburg Center too until January 3rd.
These digital interviews were assisted by National Park Service Ranger Cyrus Forman.
KAMAL SINCLAIR (American, born 1976) is a professional artist, teaching artist, and producer of live and transmedia art. Kamal obtained her BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and graduated with honors from Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business MBA program. Her professional career began as a cast member of STOMP where she performed in the national and international tours, as well as on the Emmy Awards, MTV’s Beach House, Good Morning America, The Today Show, BET, and PBS’s Reading Rainbow. Sinclair was the founding artistic director of Universal Arts and creative director for many festivals and awards shows. She taught business courses to artists through the Savannah School of Art and Design (SCAD) and Fractured U: Continuing Education for the DIY Artist. Sinclair is also a periodic contributor to the acclaimed theatre publication, Black Masks.
CHRIS JOHNSON (American, born 1948) is a photographic and video artist, writer, curator and arts administrator. Johnson studied photography with Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham and Wynn Bullock; and his artwork has been exhibited at the Oakland Museum of California and at the Mills College Museum. In 1994 he co-produced a large performance work in Oakland titled “The Roof is on Fire” bringing together inner-city high school students and adults. In 1996 he produced an innovative one-hour video piece titled “Question Bridge” that investigates class divisions within the black community. In 1999 Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown appointed Johnson to be Chair of the Oakland Cultural Affairs Commission to advise on all matters affecting cultural development in Oakland. Johnson is currently a tenured Full Professor of Photography at the California College of the Arts.
DIANE SMITH (born 1965) is an abstract painter, sculptor, and installation artist. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in New York City’s Soho and Chelsea art districts as well as, numerous galleries and institutions throughout the United States. She is an educator in the field of Aesthetic Education at Lincoln Center Institute, which is a part of New York City’s Lincoln Center For the Performing Arts. Since the invitation to join the Institute over five years ago she has taught k-12 in public schools throughout the tri-state area. Her work as a teaching artist also extends to under graduate and graduate courses in various colleges and universities such as: Lehman College, Columbia University Teachers College, City College, and St. John’s University to name a few.Recently she was invited to join the team at The Center For arts Education in New York City. In 2007, Dianne was one of the artists featured in the Boondoggle Film Documentary Colored Frames. The film took a look back at fifty years in African-American Art, and also featured other artists such as Benny Andrews, Ed Clark and Danny Simmons.That same year the historical Abyssinian Baptist Church, which is New York’s oldest African American church commissioned Smith to create the artwork commemorating their 2008 Bicentennial. In addition, she co-produced an online radio show the New Palette, for ArtonAir.org (Art International Radio)dedicated to visual artists of color. In 1995, she presented Poet Dr. Maya Angelou and Broadway Choreographer George Faison each with one of her paintings: Spirit of My Ancestors I and II. Her work is also in the private collections of Danny Simmons, Vivica A. Fox, Rev. and Mrs. Calvin O. Butts,III, Cicely Tyson, Arthur Mitchell and Terry McMillian. Dianne is a Bronx native of Belizean descent. She attended LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, the Otis Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Smith recently completed her MFA at Transart Institute in Berlin. She currently lives and works in Harlem.