The Black School, Utopia, 2018. Digital image
Architect and historian Mabel O. Wilson joins New Museum artists-in-residence the Black School and Kameelah Janan Rasheed for a panel discussion considering the role of visual culture, art, and architecture in the creation of spaces centering black teachers, learners, and knowledge within conditions of systemic and institutionalized racism.
Throughout US history, from slavery to Jim Crow segregation to present-day inequities and marginalization, people of color have created space for learning through diverse strategies that encompass mobile, temporary, domestic, and built forms. What might present and future spaces for education gain from engaging these often-suppressed histories?
For the New Museum’s annual summer art and social justice residency and exhibition, artists and educators the Black School and Kameelah Janan Rasheed reimagine learning spaces in the Fifth Floor Gallery and Resource Room, respectively, as well as the use of these environments for workshops and classes. They discuss their choices for these spaces and their approaches to teaching and learning, as well as the histories of black education in the US. Mabel O. Wilson will draw from her transdisciplinary design practice and historical research, which investigates space, politics, and cultural memory in black America and respond to the exhibition and residency.
Mabel O. Wilson is the author of Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture (2016) and Negro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums (2012). She is a member of the design team for the forthcoming Memorial to Enslaved African American Laborers at the University of Virginia. She was one of twelve curators who contributed to MoMA’s 2017 exhibition “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Architecture,” for which her research focused on the context for and conception of Wright’s unrealized design for a Rosenwald School, schools that were built for black children in the South in the early twentieth century. Wilson is a Professor of Architecture, a co-director of Global Africa Lab, and the Associate Director at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University.
The Black School is an experimental art school that uses black history to educate black and POC students and allies on how to become radical agents of social and political change. Co-administrators Joseph Cuillier and Shani Peters are professors and teaching artists, and maintain solo art practices that combine object-based making and social practice.
Kameelah Janan Rasheed is a visual artist and writer exploring language and narration through an interdisciplinary practice that includes installation, poetry, publications, performance-lectures, and learning environments. Rasheed is a former high school history teacher now working as a curriculum writer, teaching artist, and professor focused on research-based art practices.