Creative Capital Celebrates Black History Month

A Letter from Suzy Delvalle:
History is all around us, and as many of us have witnessed recently in the current political atmosphere, oppression continues to be an inextricable part of our shared American experience. February is a time where, as a country, we look at the histories of Black Americans who have shaped the U.S. into what it is today, typically without deserved recognition. It’s important to understand that being aware of oppression doesn’t start and end with Black History Month. Awareness is a muscle that must be toned. In January, I signed up for the gym as a New Year’s resolution. Now, February is my workout for active resistance against oppression!

As I’ve been settling into my role as President & Executive Director at Creative Capital, I have met so many brilliant artists and learned more about the range of projects that we have supported over the years–going all the way back to 2000. With Black History Month in mind, I asked the staff to put together a timeline of some of the earliest funded black artists, a Storify illuminating the conversation topics shared with #BlackHistoryMonth, and highlighted upcoming events that recognize the overlooked contributions of Black Americans. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know several of these artists personally, but others are new and thus very exciting for me, as I’m sure they will be for you too!

A timeline of black artists who received grants in the early stage of Creative Capital’s history. Click here to view it in a full screen.

Staff Recommendations: Erica Hunt
“Poetry seemed like a distant planet reserved for the classic romantics, serious moody types or slam crowd, all circling in their own orbits and time zones. Discovering “Arcade” and “Notes on Oppositional Poetics” last fall was one of the major highlights of a really challenging year and her writing bridges increasing gaps.  Erica Hunt’s poetry and essays are illuminating and introspective; she invites you in to take a good, hard look inside and then asks the reader to turn the same consideration to the surrounding world.  The connections between visual images, music and metaphor are deeply embedded, taking her poetry to a higher level.  Hunt’s work is just as timely now as it was then, but better yet, she’s still here, writing and reading, teaching and being a full woman.  Seeing her read and converse with her at City College was an honor and inspiration. She’s brilliant!”
– Janelle Poe
Finance Associate

Staff Recommendations: Pure Hell 
“A group who many cite as the first African-American punk rock band, including the legendary Bad Brains, was Pure Hell. On the heels of the glam-rock era, Pure Hell opened for punk icons The Sex Pistols during the early days of the Chelsea scene. Their first major release was a potent cover track of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking.’ Pure Hell deserves credit as cultural trailblazers in a music style that is often, sadly, whitewashed amongst its fan base. At their core, the band members of Pure Hell illustrated defining characteristics of punk rock artists: deliberate, wild, woke for the times, with an unabashed spirit to be themselves, and on their own terms.”
– Devon Scalisi
Web Manager

Staff Recommendations: Emma Amos
“Emma Amos was a professor at Mason Gross School of the Arts when I was a grad student there in 2005. I was inspired both by her work and her discussions about art history. She was an eye opening teacher. You can read her artist statement and see more images of her work here.”
– Julie Evanoff
Technical and Information Manager
Arts Writers Grant Program

Staff Recommendations: Washington Phillips
“One of my favorite musical finds last year was the music of Washington Phillips. He was a gospel and blues singer from the early 20th century who used an instrument that musicologists are still scratching their heads about. Even for those who aren’t religious, like myself, there is something immediately powerful in his songful preaching. Amid the political strife in 2016, I found comfort in one of his most popular songs, “Denomination Blues,” in which he sings: “It’s right to stand together, it’s wrong to stand apart/ ‘Cause none’s going to heaven but the pure in heart. And that’s all.”
– Alex Teplitzky
Communications Associate
Other Upcoming and Ongoing Artist Events Nationwide     
Some highlights this Winter:
Sable Elyse Smith at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City and Andrea Rosen Gallery, NYC
Creative Conversation: The Freedom Principle at ICA Philadelphia, March 2
* Multiple Awardees in The Intersectional Self at The 8th Floor
Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Signature Theater in NYC
Theaster Gates at University of Cambridge, UK
Yance Ford‘s Strong Island will premiere in New York as Part of Lincoln Center Film Society’s New Directors New Films 2017
Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman Laboratory for Freedoms at MoMA PS1
Browse happenings by date, state or discipline on our Awardee Events Calendar, and follow us on Twitter for ongoing updates.

More News & Stories