Documenting Ourselves: Photography as Self-Determination as Archive

Event Info

The theme of this year’s History of Art Series is Radical Legacies in Contemporary Creative Work. A series of four conversations curated by Shani Peters and Joseph Cuillier III of The Black School, focus on movement work from the perspective of Black artists and organizers from major cities throughout the country. These artist-led conversations, spanning from the institution to the individual, trace the topography of arts-based initiatives catalyzed by political unrest, guided by the span of organizing across time and place.

Working between grassroots publishing, public art and community activation, the archival implications of photography, and the materiality of healing work, these artists and practitioners will discuss their activist trajectories, to demonstrate how their individual practices intersect with adjacent movements within the US.

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Note: Center for Book Arts will hold this event entirely online. A Zoom link will be sent in an email to all registrants.

About the Program

This discussion will feature three prolific photographers whose practices reflect the lived experience of contemporary Black life. Each speaker will discuss their photographic practice, as well as discuss the different formats in which a photograph can manifest: photo prints, art objects, commercial media, social media, digital and physical archives.

From New Orleans to New York, these photographers will open an intergenerational discussion about the lived experience of Blackness and the ways the Black gaze on the Black subject shifts the historic cultural narrative and reconsiders the nature of archives.

Steven’s participation as the youngest of the panelists and alumni of/current Social Media and Communications Manager for The Black School highlights the generational span of this conversation, as well as photography’s historical legacy of both creative and political significance.

Speakers will consider:

  1. What legacies inform their work?
  2. How do they imagine their work informing future generations?
  3. In what ways do we consider the role of photography as an archive in itself, and the role of the photograph within the archive?
  4. If and how each photographer envisions the sequence and narrative of their photographic series in relation to the book format?

About the Curators

The Black School (TBS) is an experimental art school teaching Black/PoC students and allies to become agents of change through art workshops on radical Black politics and public interventions that address local community needs. The Black School was founded by Joseph Cuillier III and Shani Peters in 2016. With socially engaged artists, designers, and educators working at the intersections of K-12/university teaching, art, design, and activism, all TBS programming is structured around our core principles of Black Love, self-determination, and wellness. Since 2016, The Black School has served over 400 students, facilitated over 100 workshops and classes, produced three Black Love Fests , collaborated with more than 40 professional artists, trained and employed 16 design apprentices, and partnered with over 50 organizations.

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