For the New Museum’s annual summer art and social justice residency and exhibition, the Black School (Joseph Cuillier and Shani Peters) and Kameelah Janan Rasheed will explore the pasts and futures of black critical pedagogies.
Students attending a Freedom School, Mississippi,1964. Photo: Ken Thompson
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The Black School and Rasheed share a longstanding commitment to education and art-making practices, and an investment in surfacing the diverse histories of black social movements in the US. Within the Museum’s education department, they consider self- and community-determined knowledge production, learning, and dissemination in their many forms. Education is posited as a right and as a means to social justice—both of which have been challenged by legacies of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and present-day systemic racism.
Looking to diverse examples of learning structures from throughout US history, the artists realize two unique environments for facilitated and self-directed learning. The Black School imagines a classroom for art-making workshops rooted in creative activist tactics. The environment they have built is inspired by the historic organizing of programs responsive to urgent and ongoing community-identified needs, such as Freedom Schools (free alternative schools for black youth that sprang out of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s) and the Black Panthers’ Liberation Schools. Meanwhile, Kameelah Janan Rasheed draws from the local histories of her hometown of East Palo Alto, CA, as well as those elsewhere in the US, to offer a hybrid resource room. Here, the artist presents “ECOSYSTEMS,” an installation with text, objects, and video, as well as a library equipped with a Xerox machine for the public to use. The materials collected in the library represent Rasheed’s own research into black traditions of independent schools, publishing, and radical imagination. Working with the New Museum’s Teen Apprentice Program, the Black School and Rasheed will facilitate newly developed public and private workshops, programs, and classes for youth and adults throughout the residency.
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 Cuillier and Peters are professors and teaching artists, working in both object-based making and social practice.
Kameelah Janan Rasheed is a visual artist and writer. She explores 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 college instructor focused on research-based art practices.
The exhibition is curated by Emily Mello, Associate Director of Education, and Johanna Burton, Keith Haring Director of Education and Public Engagement.