Our first liquid blackness Symposium on “Blackness, Aesthetics, Liquidity” hosted by the Department of Communication at Georgia State University on April 11-12, 2014 produced two publications. The first one, with the same title, featured an essay by the group’s coordinator Alessandra Raengo which outlined some of the stakes of thinking about blackness aesthetically and thinking about its aesthetics in liquid form. It also collected a series of responses by group members to the work of artists who responded to our call for submissions and shared their work with us. Most of them were also featured speakers at the Symposium (see program here).

From the first “call for submission” to the final structure that the Symposium assumed—with two keynote lectures, an artists panel, live and video dance performances, and a concurring exhibition of artwork at the DAEL Window Project—the key idea was to pursue a free form. This approach was inspired by the desire to put in dialogue scholarly, artistic and curatorial practices as well as bring into contact different institutional and non-institutional spaces and audiences. In keeping with the idea of fluidity, malleability, and porosity that liquid blackness pursues as a research group, the Symposium too was an exciting, risky, and certainly “messy” concept and enterprise—as Hamza Walker described it in his opening remarks. This beautiful/fluid/organized mess would not have succeeded without the careful and generous work of a number of people which we acknowledged in the second publication following the Symposium, titled, 2014 liquid blackness Symposium: Reflections and Movements.

Below you will find some acknowledgments of the people who were vital in the organization and the success of the symposium, followed by bios of symposium contributors (as artists or performers) and contributors to the two publications.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

To begin, it would have been impossible to navigate the territory of the Atlanta art scene without the capable guidance of Kristin Juarez who delivered our theoretical questions to destination with many of the artists that contributed to the Symposium. Among the very first interlocutors about the viability of an initiative around the idea of “liquid blackness,” Kristin has shared her experience and personal contacts to make possible not only the exhibition of artwork for the April 2014 edition of the DAEL Window Project, but also the artists’ panel featured at the Symposium. She was key in the drafting of the calls for submissions as well as in determining the very structure of the event.

Similarly, Lauren Cramer and Cameron Kunzelman have been crucial to the intellectual work behind the structure of the Symposium and its publications, while Katharine Zakos has been the key social media operator and, together with Dorothy Hendrix, central to our fundraising efforts in the community. Window Project artists Consuela Boyer, Chr!s Reel, Joey Molina, and Fahamu Pecou were shepherded by Kristin Juarez and Christina Washington in the process of adapting their work for the venue. Writers contributing to our pre-Symposium publication worked primarily under the editorial guidance of Lauren Cramer and Cameron Kunzelman.

Chris Hunt designed all publicity visual materials generated for the Symposium, with original images he had created together with Joey Molina and Michael Sanders. Chris and Joey were also responsible for our publication’s design and layout.

Michael Sanders was instrumental in establishing a collaboration with Brian Egan at the Mammal Gallery (an event that came together also thanks to the hard work of Christina Romo and Richard Moye), while Lauren Cramer, Chris Hunt, and Cameron Kunzelman were central to our connection with Karl Injex at The Sound Table where we mingled with the artists and speakers after the end of the Symposium.

Gathering Wild Dance choreographer Jerylann Warner’s enthusiastic reaction to the “clusters” of ideas we initially formulated, in our first attempts to describe and reflect on the idea of “liquid blackness,” was key to attracting the attention and commitment of fellow choreographer Bubba Carr and T.Lang. My exchanges with Jerylann were the impetus behind the idea of incorporating live performances in the Symposium, as a way to use bodily movement to both complement and challenge more traditional scholarly reflections.

Finally, my conversations with Dr. Michele Prettyman-Beverly and her invaluable input have been central to the pursuit of the liquid blackness initiative. For years, Michele and I sought ways to bring together the very dialogue that materialized at the Symposium and to create a forum for a more uninhibited, experimental, and open conversation about race, visual culture, and aesthetics to take place. As she articulates in her contribution to this publication, this public exchange has made it possible for a variety of people to openly care about these issues.

 

CONTRIBUTORS

Alessandra Raengo
is Associate Professor of Moving Image Studies, in the Department of Communication at Georgia State University. Her work focuses on blackness in the visual and aesthetic field. She is author of On the Sleeve of the Visual: Race as Face Value (Dartmouth College Press, 2013) and coordinator of liquid blackness.

Adam Cottrel
is a Doctoral Candidate at Georgia State University. His work explores critical theory, the body, and global art cinema.

Lauren M. Cramer
is a Doctoral Student at Georgia State University. Her work focuses on visual culture, hip-hop, and the racial encounter in everyday life.

Dorothy Hendrix
is a PhD student at Georgia State University
Her research and writing focuses mainly on youth culture and film.

Kristin Juarez
is a PhD student in the Moving Image Studies program at Georgia State University. Her interests include curatorial strategies of contemporary art, film, and video for the art space and the public sphere.

Joey Molina
is an artist and writer who holds a BFA from Georgia State University.
His interest is in film and video with a concentration on gender and sexuality.

Shady Patterson
is a graduate of the Visual Culture M.A. program at New York University and a independent researcher and curator. She works as a set costumer for the film industry in Atlanta, GA. Her research interests include beauty ideals, clothing, and dress, art and Black American culture, and philosophy of the African Diaspora.

Michele Prettyman-Beverly
has taught film courses at Emory University, Georgia State University, and Middle Georgia State College. She also consults with film festivals and is developing several film projects. Her work explores African American independent filmmakers, race and visual culture, embodiment, and aesthetics.

Jasmine A. Tillman
is an MA student in the African-American Studies Department at Georgia State University. Her work, in the area of African-American culture and aesthetics, focuses on the ways that black social movements have used culture as a political tool for liberation.

Michael B. Gillespie is an Assistant Professor of Film at Ohio University. His teaching and research focuses on film theory, black visual and expressive culture, historiography, global cinema, film adaptation, and genre theory. His recent publications include “Reckless Eyeballing: Coonskin, Film Blackness, and the Racial Grotesque” in Black American Cinema Reconsidered (Routledge, 2012); “Dirty Pretty Things: The Racial Grotesque and Contemporary Art” in Post-Soul Satire: Black Identity after Civil Rights (University Press of Mississippi, 2014); and “Smiling Faces: Chameleon Street, Racial Performativity, and Film Blackness” in Passing Interest: Racial Passing in U.S. Fiction, Memoir, Television, and Film, 1990-2010 (SUNY Press, 2014). He is completing a book entitled Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film and co-editing two volumes, Black Cinema Aesthetics Revisited and New Chester Himes Criticism.

ARTISTS

Carla Aaron-Lopez, also known as “King Carla,” is a multidisciplinary artist engaged in photography, collage, and video. She was born in 1983 in Charlotte, North Carolina. She completed her undergraduate work in Visual Communications and Art at North Carolina Central University. Later, she attained her Master’s Degree in Photography and Printmaking at SCAD in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s received awards mostly for writing during her undergrad. Currently, she is working as an art educator in Charlotte, NC.

Consuela Boyer is an Atlanta-based visual artist with a concentration in photography and video. Her works combine observations on identity, race, hip-hop culture, Atlanta communities, and popular culture. Boyer’s photographs and video art address concerns around contemporary representations and stereotypes of African American women. She is currently a BFA student at Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design at Georgia State University. Her work is featured in public galleries including MINT Gallery, Welch School of Art and Design Galleries at Georgia State University, and Dalton Gallery at Agnes Scott College.

Kevin Jerome Everson was born and raised in Mansfield, Ohio. He has a MFA from Ohio University and a BFA from the University of Akron. He is currently a Professor of Art at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. He was awarded the 2012 Alpert Award for Film/Video and was the subject in spring 2012 of a mid-career retrospective at Visions du Reel, Nyon Switzerland and a 2009 retrospective at the Centre Pompidou. His work has been featured in the 2008 and 2012 Whitney Biennials. A solo exhibition of some of his short form works, (“More Than That: The Films of Kevin Jerome Everson”) was featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art (April 28-Sept. 18, 2011). A DVD set, Broad Daylight and Other Times: Selected Works of Kevin Jerome Everson, was released by Video Data Bank in 2011. His artwork (paintings, sculpture, site-specific installations, photography, video, and films) has been exhibited internationally at museums, art institutions, and film festivals around the world.

Nikita Gale is an American conceptual artist based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her work explores the ways in which desire, identity and memory are mediated through language, material and image. She holds a BA in Anthropology (Archaeological Studies) from Yale University and exhibits regularly throughout Atlanta, Georgia and New York City, New York. She has participated in residencies at The Center for Photography at Woodstock in Woodstock, New York in 2011 and at the Vermont Studio Center in 2013 and is currently in the Studio Artist Program at The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. She currently serves on the board of directors for BurnAway, an Atlanta-based non-profit arts publication. Her work can be found in numerous collections including the Howard Greenberg Gallery collection in New York. Gale has had work featured in ART PAPERS, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Headline News, and Oxford American and has been profiled and reviewed by numerous publications including Artforum.com, Frank151, Atlanta Magazine and Creative Loafing. In 2014, Gale was named an “Artist to Watch” by NBC’s The Grio. Gale is represented by {Poem88} in Atlanta, GA.

Nettrice Gaskins is a Ph.D. Candidate and researcher in Georgia Tech’s Digital Media Program. Her work investigates culturally situated arts-based learning and new media, their invention, and use in underrepresented ethnic communities of practice. This includes the use of digital media tools and platforms, and cultural art forms. She received a BFA in Computer Graphics, with Honors, from Pratt Institute and an MFA in Art & Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a writer/columnist for Art21, the producer of the Peabody award-winning PBS series, Art in the Twenty-First Century. Gaskins has presented her work around the world and was a Digital STEAM researcher at the Smithsonian.

Joey Molina is an artist and writer living in Atlanta, GA. He holds a BFA in Film and Video from Georgia State University. genderFLOW is a collaborative project between photographer Brandon Johnson, and models Mia Selph and Rodney Oliver Banks. Joey serves as creative director. The purpose of the project is to show how gender is attributed through clothing, and to express an ironic take towards fashion photography. The culmination of posing, portraiture and fashion highlighting the fragility of the fashion photography genre.

Yanique Norman is a multimedia artist who is completing a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts from Georgia State University. Her work is in the collection of the High Museum of Art, private collections in Georgia, and in the public collections of Hammond’s House Museum and Clark Atlanta University.

Other Featured Artists
bcarr[works]
DRosenthal Art
Fahamu Pecou
Gathering Wild Dance Company
T.Lang Dance
Chr!s Fergurson