Excerpt from "Embroidery: Threads and Stories from Alabama Chanin and the School of Making" by Natalie Chanin.
Learning about Life and love in the spiritual space of Blackpentecostalism, I was able to sense the world by paying attention to how my flesh felt. We sang songs loudly. We shouted hard. We spoke in tongues. The flesh was the conduit through which praise and worship happened. But the flesh was also a site to control, a site that was always available to sinfulness. The doctrine about queerness as beyond the scope of possible joy and holiness is a doctrine I had to reconcile and eventually contest.
Drawing on a group of quilts created by African American women who lived in the construction villages associated with the Tennessee Valley Authority during the New Deal era, this essay asserts that these quiltmakers created modernist quilts as "home beautification," as a potential source of empowerment to the Black TVA staff and their families, and as a signal to white TVA administrators that Black workers had much to offer the community and nation, deserving better treatment than the federal program was providing. These women attempted to disrupt the customs and traditions of the rural South by crafting quilts with equally radical aesthetics and messages, in contrast to the typical quilts of this era, which reflect the colonial revival and popular consumer culture. By giving these quilts to white TVA higher-ups, African Americans associated with the TVA claimed their power and potential in the face of a segregated system funded by the federal government.
Conversation between painter Clarence Heyward and Tatiana McInnis, in collaboration with the Nasher Museum of Art.
A review of “Picturing the South: 25 Years” from the High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia.
Over the course of eight years while living in North Carolina, photographer Lisa McCarty visited Lake Eden, former home of the renowned experimental art school Black Mountain College. McCarty writes, "My motivation was never to repeat what the original students made, and I never expected to see exactly what they saw. However, I did want to feel something of what they felt, to be a part of natureculture. When I go to Lake Eden with my camera, I can, and I do. I become sensitive to everything." Between 1933 and 1957, Black Mountain's roster included Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Gwendolyn Lawrence, Jacob Lawrence, Barbara Morgan, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Susan Weil, and Marion Post Wolcott. Many of these artists are now part of the canon of American art and literature, and it is often the knowledge that many of them lived and worked together in the same place that sparks curiosity about the school. But despite the visceral effect of this specific place on a wide range of students, faculty, and even the subsequent admirers of the school that tour Lake Eden today, the importance of environmental stewardship and reverence at the College are often footnotes in its history.
Art offers an archive that documents the environmental past. As cities grew quickly in the New South at the start of the twentieth century, women established urban gardens that provided self-sufficiency and meager profits for their households. Urban planners and zoning eliminated most of these opportunities by the late 1930s. The artist Romare Bearden, born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1911, recalled in his art the beauty of urban gardens among African American homes. This article considers those gardening practices through two Bearden collages centered on the unknown gardener Maudell Sleet and chronicles how cities changed with the demise of urban gardening.
Conversation with portrait artists Amy Sherald and Deborah Roberts.