The Black School x Kameelah Janan Rasheed

New Museum , New York, United States
23 May 2018 - 16 Sep 2018

Students attending a Freedom School, Mississippi, 1964. Photo: Ken Thompson.

Students attending a Freedom School, Mississippi, 1964. Photo: Ken Thompson.

For the New Museum’s annual summer art and social justice residency and exhibition, the Black School (Joseph Cuillier and Shani Peters) and Kameelah Janan Rasheed explore the past and future of black critical pedagogies.

Within the Museum’s Department of Education and Public Engagement, they consider self- and community-determined knowledge production, learning, and dissemination in their many forms. Education is posited as a right and as a means to social justice—both of which have been challenged by legacies of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and present-day systemic racism.

Looking to diverse examples of learning structures from throughout US history, the artists realize two unique environments for facilitated and self-directed learning. The Black School imagines a classroom for art-making workshops rooted in creative activist tactics. The environment they have built is inspired by the historic organizing of programs responsive to urgent and ongoing community-identified needs, such as Freedom Schools (free alternative schools for black youth that sprang out of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s) and the Black Panthers’ Liberation Schools. Meanwhile, Kameelah Janan Rasheed draws from the local histories of her hometown of East Palo Alto, CA, as well as those elsewhere in the US, to offer a hybrid resource room. Here, the artist presents an installation with text, objects, and video, as well as a library equipped with a Xerox machine for the public to use. The materials collected in the library represent Rasheed’s own research into black traditions of independent schools, publishing, and radical imagination. Working with the New Museum’s Teen Apprentice Program, the Black School and Rasheed will facilitate newly developed public and private workshops, programs, and classes for youth and adults throughout the residency.

The Black School is an experimental art school that uses black history to educate black and POC students and allies on how to become radical agents of social and political change. Co-administrators Cuillier and Peters are professors and teaching artists, working in both object-based making and social practice.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed is a visual artist and writer. She explores language and narration through an interdisciplinary practice that includes installation, poetry, publications, performance-lectures, and learning environments. Rasheed is a former high school history teacher now working as a curriculum writer, teaching artist, and professor focused on research-based art practices.

The exhibition is curated by Emily Mello, Associate Director of Education, and Johanna Burton, Keith Haring Director of Education and Public Engagement.


Public Programs

Library Hours in the Resource Room with Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Thursday May 31, August 23, and September 6, 7–8:30pm
Saturday June 23 and July 21, 3–5pm
Kameelah Janan Rasheed shares materials from her personal archival collection of printed matter.

Publishing Center
Thursdays June 7–July 12 (no meeting July 5), 6:30–8:30pm
This free series, taught by Rasheed, restages the publishing center from her elementary school to focus on black traditions of self-publishing, literacy, and independent schools.

Family Meals: Sharing Histories
Wednesday June 13, 7pm
Inspired by the generative learning that occurs during meals in domestic and community settings, Rasheed invites artists, organizers, community members, and educators to two potluck dinners to consider the histories and futures of independent black schools. Rasheed will introduce this meal with excerpts focusing on Nairobi College from the documentary Dreams of a City: Creating East Palo Alto (dir. Michael Levin, 1997).

Drop-In Sessions with the Teen Apprentice Program
Fridays July 13–August 17, 3pm
First-come, first-served workshops for visitors will be led by the Teen Apprentice Program. Teens will facilitate an art-making project for visitors and guide their use of The Black School Process Cards, a deck that generates artist-activist tactics.

Space for Learning: Within and Beyond Walls
Thursday July 26, 7pm
Architect and historian Mabel O. Wilson joins the Black School and Rasheed for a panel discussion considering the role of visual culture, art, and architecture in the creation of spaces that center black teachers, learners, and knowledge.

Black Love Committee
New Museum and off-site* at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling
Saturday July 28, 11am–1pm: Utopia, Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling*
Saturday August 4, 11am–1pm: Spectacle, New Museum
Saturday August 11, 11am–1pm: Action, New Museum
Sunday August 19, all day: Enactment at Black Love Festival NYC 2018, Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling*
The Black School will lead a series of three free tactic-specific sessions on arts activism for an intergenerational audience, culminating in a presentation at Black Love Fest NYC at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling.

Family Meals: Sharing Futures
Wednesday September 12, 7pm
Conversation at this meal will focus on questions that have arisen over the course of the exhibition and residency.

About Summer R&D Season: Social Justice
Launched in the summer of 2016, the Department of Education and Public Engagement’s Summer R&D Season is an annual research and development initiative that foregrounds the New Museum’s year-round commitment to partnerships and public dialogue at the intersection of art and social justice. Each R&D Summer takes the form of an artist residency and an exhibition. Visitors and community partners are directly engaged through gallery activations and public and private programs. The New Museum’s Teen Apprentice Program, a paid summer internship, offers a group of teens an intensive six-week program, during which they work with teaching staff and artists-in-residence to play a crucial role in facilitating visitor dialogue and participation, while learning about the relationship between art and social justice.