To see Josephine Baker’s dance sequence skip to 2:27. Happy Spring!
His work has been described as “stridently race conscious,” who wrestles “with issues related to Black and gay self-hatred, Black-ness, Jamaican-ness, African-ness, sexuality, class and religion. He achieves all this through a self-taught direct style that calls on Rastafari and Garvey symbolism.” I would describe his work as right on time.
I met Lawrence a few years ago at a Rainbow Book Fair then hosted by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. He was quiet, unassuming and polite. Apparently, he saves his energy for the stage. When the spotlight hits him, Graham-Brown comes alive. He can be credited for taking the Black male body into various spaces (the church, for example) and making it front and center in unique, startling ways.
Below he shares his sensibilities about his art and its purpose.
How would you describe your artistic process?
Well, an inspiration could come from many sources. I might develop an idea by writing about it then create artwork through various media, vis-à-vis painting, collage, performance video, or just having a discussion to flesh out thoughts about it. Sometimes I may put a thought on hold and then return to it later, however I would like to think I am a 21st Century man and so I try to address issues I think would be of relevance to me and my communities.
Nudity figures prominently in your work, talk about that.
My work is rooted in concepts of liberation, fear, boundaries or lack thereof, risks, challenges, religion, race, sex-sexuality and so on. So therefore nudity would certainly be a friend. Nudity always draws a range of emotion; it is like brush strokes or piano keys in my work. I like to create a range of emotion. Some folks pick up on the nudity because that is where they enter the work, or the olfactory notes, or sounds, or actions but as a Jamaican liberation is at the very core of my being, with influences from Garvey, Rex Nettleford, Marley, and many others. You would be blind to not realize the erosion of our civil rights, so as a 21st Century Black man in USA, I believe that public policy makers do not believe we have the right to own our bodies, to dance how we want to dance, and to dress the way we want to dress.
On Tuesday May 28, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. join Jamaican artist Lawrence Graham-Brown for a screening of “Rites of Passage/Sacred Spaces 2012,” his recent performance/film at the Schomburg Center. After the screening, Graham-Brown will be in conversation with Steven G. Fullwood about his insightful views on art, politics, and public performance as a venue for change, expression, and liberation. Light refreshments will be served.
Free! Registration required! Register and spread the word!
Photo: Working still from Billy & Aaron
Image Maker: Rodney Evans, Part 2
We continue our conversation with director/writer Rodney Evans who will be at the Schomburg Center to showcase his short films as well as clips from his feature-length films including the forthcoming, The Happy Sad.
What motivates you to work in a visual medium like film?
I’ve always been interested in the ways that stories and emotions can be conveyed through a visual medium and how subtext gets communicated through movements, looks and gestures. At the same time I am fascinated by memory, dreams and the subjective nature of history.
Which stories get preserved & passed on, and which ones slip through the cracks?
I was always aware of the lack of film and television representation that reflected any aspect of my experience. I wanted to be an active agent in changing that situation as opposed to bemoaning the state of the things from the sidelines. Since I have also dabbled in the many different art forms (dance, music, fiction writing, acting, photography) film was always a way to combine all of these disparate interests within one medium.
Any films you’d recommend that are out now?
Funny enough, the one that I would recommend out now would be Portrait of Jason directed by Shirley Clarke in 1967. She is one of my favorite filmmakers and her two films Portrait of Jason (1967) and The Cool World (1963) are ones that I go back to over and over again. All of her works has been meticulously restored by Milestone Films and Portrait of Jason is currently playing at The IFC Center in New York.
I discovered her films on a dusty shelf at Kim’s Video in the early 90’s and found both of these films to be deeply affecting and inspiring. Jason is one of the first film representations of an out, black, gay man and is the sole focus of the film. He is a born storyteller and hysterically funny yet also kind of tragic in a way that I think we can all relate to. He is The Happy Sad in many ways…
The Ordinary People film series concludes with Director/Writer Rodney Evans who will showcase two of his earlier short films, “Two Encounters” (1999) and “Close to Home” (1998), a clip from “Brother to Brother” (2004), a recent short film, “Billy and Aaron” (2010) and an excerpt from his upcoming feature-length film, “The Happy Sad” (2013).
After the screening, there will be a Q&A with Evans. Free and open to the public.
Image Maker: Rodney Evans, Part 1
I say celebrate. We are so very fortunate to be living in a time where there are so many black queer filmmakers creating probing documentaries, entertaining short films and absorbing feature-length works.
Black queer films are available through distribution companies such as California Newsreel and Third World Films and on Netflix.
We were extremely grateful to offer a forum for their unique and inspiring voices at the Schomburg.
On Tuesday May 7th at 6:30 pm, director/writer Rodney Evans will be at the Schomburg to showcase some of his short films and clips from his features, including the forthcoming, The Happy Sad.
Synopsis: The Happy Sad follows two couples (one black, gay couple and one white, straight yet bi-curious) as they navigate open relationships and sexual identity.
Mr. Evans shares insights about his new film: The Happy Sad
The film really evolved out of my friendship with the playwright Ken Urban. We met in the summer of 2008 when we both had artist residencies at Macdowell. Ken invited me to a production of the stage version of The Happy Sad at the Summer Plays Festival at The Public Theater in 2009.
I was really taken with the characters and thought about how these issues of trust, monogamy, fidelity and experimentation in the age of internet hookups were playing out in my own life and within my immediate circle of friends. They were issues that felt so common but rarely represented with the kind of honesty, empathy and humor that you see in The Happy Sad.
Ken and I began discussing how it could work as a film and he was really open to transforming the piece so that it worked as a film. He did the adaptation but I was very closely involved and gave notes and feedback on each successive draft.
I was also coming off of a great experience participating in The Binger Film Lab’s Directing Programme in Amsterdam where I was able to make a ten-minute short film, Billy and Aaron, in eight hours with a skeleton crew of three people. The film premiered at Tribeca in 2010 and I was really galvanized by the experience of making it. I wanted to utilize a similar production model for a low budget feature where the focus would be on the writing and the performances. At the same time I wasn’t interested in getting caught up in casting “name” actors and chasing financing for years.
So we decided to do a small crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter in May 2011 and if it was successful we would move immediately into casting and then into production. Lucky for us this plan worked and we shot the film in the summer of 2011 in a very hectic, jam-packed 16 days with a crew largely comprised of my amazing students from Temple University.
The Ordinary People film series concludes with Director/Writer Rodney Evans who will showcase two of his earlier short films, “Two Encounters” (1999) and “Close to Home“(1998), a clip from “Brother to Brother” (2004), a recent short film, “Billy and Aaron” (2010) and an excerpt from his upcoming feature-length film, “The Happy Sad” (2013).
After the screening, there will be a Q&A with Evans.
Free and open to the public.
Empress Zewditu of Ethiopia was born on April 29, 1876 as Askala Maryam in the city of Harrar in Enjersa Goro Province, Ethiopia. Zewditu was crowned the queen of kings (Empress) on September 27, 1916 and her cousin, Tafari Mekonnen (future emperor Haile Selassie), was appointed her prime minister.
Tickets are still available for the Tongues of Fire Choir concert! This is presented as part of Blink Your Eyes: Sekou Sundiata Revisited, a city-wide retrospective that pays tribute to the life, work and legacy of artist, poet and educator Sekou Sundiata. Join us at the ApolloTheater on April 27 at 8 p.m. for this lyrical journey as each poet explores the idea of “What’s in a name?”
For more info: https://www.facebook.com/events/443035659111629/
For ticket info visit: http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/00004A449B1F7B81?brand=apollo
Birthday of Afrika Bambaataa (aka Kevin Donovan), American DJ from South Bronx, NY. He was instrumental in the early development of hip hop in the 1980s. (1957) #todayinblackhistory
Zimbabwe, Independence Day (April 18,1980) #todayinblackhistory
Carter G. Woodson (born 1875). Convinced that the history of African-Americans was being ignored and misrepresented, took steps to put things right. In 1915 Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). The association was created to promote and preserve African-American history and culture. He founded the Journal of Negro History in 1916. He authored “The Miseducation of the Negro”. He died April 3,1950 #todayinblackhistory
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture strives to continuously spread the seed of knowledge to our community.
In honor of Puerto Rico’s Emancipation Day (Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud—March 22, 1873), we are honoring an important historian, scholar, and activist who was a central figure in collecting and preserving the artifacts, and the experiences and culture of the black Diaspora during the Harlem Renaissance, and whose collections contributed to the foundation of our research center—Mr. Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938).
Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was born on January 24, 1874 in the Spanish colony of Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico to a black West Indian mother and a German immigrant father. In 1891, Schomburg migrated to New York where he became involved with the nationalist intellectuals of the Cuban and Puerto Rican communities, and later black internationalism.
Mr. Schomburg was a scholar, historian, author, and activist in the United States, and his vast collection of black history and culture was purchased in 1926 by the Schomburg Library in Harlem, New York. The library was named after Mr. Schomburg in October 1972, in honor of his commitment to collecting and documenting Black contributions to the world. Today the Schomburg Center possesses one of the richest collections on black history.
For an in-depth biography of Mr. Arthur Schomburg and his experiences and contributions visit here.
The words ‘mind-blowing, awesome, wonderful, eye-opening, truly amazing, inspirational, life changing’ are being used by visitors—from as far away as Australia, Ethiopia, France, India, Italy and Spain—to describe the deeply inspring and moving exhibition Africans in India: From Slaves to Generals and Rulers. Come and see for yourself what they have discovered.
Res “On My Way” Live @ Le Grand Dakar in Brooklyn.
Don’t miss Res at the Schomburg on Tuesday, January 22 at 6:30 PM!
Get your tickets here.