Artist and the Archive: Deconstructing Racial Imagination at the Schomburg
Founded by poet and McArthur Fellow Claudia Rankine, The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII) is an interdisciplinary cultural laboratory of writers, activists, scholars, and artists, dedicated to the work of engaging the concept of the racial imagination, specifically critiquing the costs and means by which whiteness and institutional racism have shaped cultural production, politics, and memory. This program will feature a discussion with Rankine and artists Hank Willis Thomas and Alexandra Bell, moderated by LeRonn Brooks, PhD. They will also explore art, activism, how TRII’s new online archive will be used by artists and writers seeking to examine important conversations on race in the U.S. and across the globe through artistic practice.
Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; two plays including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment of the Arts. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry. In 2016, she co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII). She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
Dr. LeRonn P. Brooks an assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies at Lehman College of CUNY. His interviews, essays, and poetry have appeared in publications for Bomb Magazine, The Studio Museum In Harlem, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Spelman Museum of Art, The International Review of African American Art as well as The Aperture Foundation, among others. He has received fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation and Callaloo Journal and is a curator for The Racial Imaginary Institute and the Bronx Council on the Arts. He is also the creator and executive-producer of Culture/Context, an online conversation series currently featuring major African American and African artists.
Alexandra Bell (b. 1983, Chicago, IL) is a multidisciplinary artist who investigates the complexities of narrative, information consumption, and perception. Utilizing various media, she deconstructs dominant histories to highlight patterns in news reportage and society at large. Bell holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities from the University of Chicago and an M.S. in Print Journalism from Columbia University. She lives and works in Brooklyn.
Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to identity, history and popular culture. His work has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and abroad including, the International Center of Photography, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Musée du quai Branly, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Thomas’ work is in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the High Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, among others. His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), and For Freedoms which Thomas co-founded in 2016 as the first artist-run super PAC. For Freedoms was recently awarded the 2017 ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas is also the recipient of the 2017 Soros Equality Fellowship. Current and upcoming exhibitions include Prospect 4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp in New Orleans and Freedom Isn’t Always Beautiful at Savannah College of Art and Design Museum. Thomas is a member of the Public Design Commission for the City of New York. He received a BFA in Photography and Africana studies from New York University and a MFA/MA in Photography and Visual Criticism from the California College of Arts. He has also received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute of Art and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. Thomas lives and works in New York City.