Black Artists Speak & Black Lunch Tables with Artists Heather Hart and Jina Valentine

Co-Sponsored by the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, and the Boston Black Artists Alliance

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Artists Heather Hart and Jina Valentine will be at Boston University for several events including Black Lunch Table sessions, a panel discussion, and wiki edit-a-thons.

The Black Lunch Table (BLT) is an ongoing collaboration between artist and UNC Assistant Professor of Art Jina Valentine and New York-based, media and social-practice artist, Heather Hart. First staged in 2005 at the preeminent artist residency Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, this project augments the dominant history of contemporary art with the testimonies of living, working, African American artists. The primary aim is the production of discursive sites, wherein cultural producers of color engage in critical dialogue with one another on topics directly affecting our community. The Black Lunch Table cultivates audience contingency—participants become constituents as they find their agency within the project.

Panel Discussion: Wednesday, April 19 at 7 pm – Photonics 206: RSVP
Black Artists Speak: Opportunity, Activism, and Community – A Panel Discussion: Featuring visual artists Heather Hart and Jina Valentine, playwright Kirsten Greenidge, and musician Danny Mekonnen of Debo Band, moderated by Victoria George

Black Lunch Tables: This project augments the dominant history of contemporary art with the testimonies of living, working, African American artists. The primary aim is the production of discursive sites, wherein cultural producers of color engage in critical dialogue with one another on topics directly affecting our community.

  • Friday, April 21 at 12-2 p.m.- Artists & Art Workers of the African Diaspora
    This Black Lunch Table will work to reify the visibility of connections and dialogue that exists between contemporary artists of the African Diaspora.
    Mugar Library – Estin Room – 302.  RSVP

  • Saturday, April 22 at 12-2 p.m. – Open to All
    This Black Lunch Table session intends to generate discussion around issues related to the #blacklivesmatter movement and intends to catalyze discourse among community members.
    Mugar Library – Estin Room – 302. RSVP

Wiki Edit-A-Thons: “Radical archiving” in order to shift the rhetoric around contemporary art history and contribute to the authoring of (art)history. Open to all. No experience necessary. Bring your laptop.
Friday, April 21 & Saturday, April 22. 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Mugar Library – Estin Room – 302. RSVP


Biographies of Artists & Panelists:

Based in Brooklyn, NY, Heather Hart was an artist in residence at Joan Mitchell Center, McColl Center of Art + Innovation, Bemis Center for Art, LMCC Workspace, Skowhegan, Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, Santa Fe Art Institute, Fine Arts Work Center and at the Whitney ISP.  She is interested in creating site-specific liminal spaces for personal reclamation, in questioning dominant narratives and proposing alternatives to them. Hart received grants from Joan Mitchell Foundation, Harpo Foundation, Jerome Foundation and a fellowship from NYFA. Her work has been included in a variety of publications and exhibited worldwide including at Socrates Sculpture Park, Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, Studio Museum in Harlem, ICA Philadelphia, Art in General, The Drawing Center, PS1 MoMA, Museum of Arts and Craft in Itami, Portland Art Center and the Brooklyn Museum. She studied at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Princeton University in New Jersey and received her MFA from Rutgers University.

Jina Valentine is based in North Carolina, where she is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at UNC Chapel Hill. Her interdisciplinary practice is informed by the intuitive strategies of American folk artists and traditional craft techniques, and interweaves histories latent within found texts, objects, narratives, and spaces. She has exhibited at venues including The Drawing Center, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the CUE Foundation, the Elizabeth Foundation, the Fleisher-Ollman Gallery, Southern Exposure, Marlborough Gallery. She has participated in residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Women’s Studio Workshop, Sculpture Space, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Santa Fe Art Institute, and the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, Frans Masereel Centrum in Belgium, and Banff in Alberta Canada.  Jina received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and her MFA from Stanford University.

Kirsten Greenidge is the Village Voice/Obie award winning author of MILK LIKE SUGAR and THE LUCK OF THE IRISH. Additional plays include: SPLENDOR, 103 WITHIN THE VEIL, RUST, PROCLIVITIES, THANKSGIVING, SANS-CULOTTES IN THE PROMISED LAND, and FAMILIAR. Using a pronounced, hyper-realistic style and detailed attention to poetic language, Kirsten’s plays examine the intersections of race, gender, and class. She is a PEN America/Laura Pels Award for mid-career playwright recipient, and she has been nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award, a Audelco Award, and three IRNE awards (she has received IRNEs twice). She is also a former NEA resident playwright at Woolly Mammoth; a two time TCG/Edgerton New American Play Award recipient; a Sundance/Time Warner Award recipient; a Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival Mark David Cohen Award and a Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival Lorraine Hansberry Award winner.

Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen is the founder and leader of Debo Band, whose self-titled debut was included on NPR’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2012. The group’s groundbreaking take on Ethiopian music has lead to performances at the Montreal Jazz Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, South by Southwest, Sauti za Busara (Zanzibar), and the Ethiopian Music(s) Festival (Addis Ababa). He has a masters in ethnomusicology from Harvard University (M.A. 2013) where he researched Ethiopian popular music of the 1960s-1970s. In 2007, he taught a UNESCO course in musical ethnography at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University.

Victoria (Vicky) George, Moderator, is the Membership and Capacity Building Manager at ArtsBoston where she creates programming to support ArtsBoston’s 170 member organizations in the areas of Audience Development and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (E.D.I). Prior to joining ArtsBoston in May 2015, Vicky worked as an undergraduate admission officer recruiting students of color and students from other underrepresented communities for Tufts University and Wellesley College. Vicky is also an artist and received her B.A. in English and Theatre Studies from Wellesley College.