15 Necessary Exhibitions To See This Black History Month

Photos courtesy of California African American Museum, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

You won't want to miss them

The art world establishment is still incredibly whitewashed, and mostly male. It's not alone in this, unfortunately, but it's particularly notable since creative expression is often at its most exciting when it comes out of marginalized, underrepresented communities. This is why it's absolutely necessary that minority voices be given a mainstream platform—it benefits them, yes, but also audiences.

Inclusive exhibitions cannot and should not be restricted to only being shown during Black History Month, of course, and I always advocate that museums and galleries focus on diversifying their offerings. But, there are so many opportunities around the country to see art made by Black creators this month—and even if you can't see them in person, you should at least read up on the artists and their work. Below are some great places to get started on doing just that.

Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Made Visible, opens February 2
This exhibition draws attention to the underrepresented communities of South Africa who were systematically oppressed during the apartheid regime, including Xhosa, Ndebele, and Zulu communities; women of color; members of the LGBTQI community; and rural citizens. Members from these communities will describe the ways that clothes have shaped their identities.

Photo courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum of Contemporary Art Pacific Design Center, One Day at a Time: Kahlil Joseph's Fly Paper, closes February 24
This film explores the rich cultural impact and history of Harlem and the larger topic of Black art and culture in New York City.

Photo courtesy of ICA; Kevin Jerome Everson, IFO, 2017. Film still. © Kevin Jerome Everson. Courtesy of the artist, Trilobite Arts DAC, and Picture Palace Pictures.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Colored People Time: Mundane Futures
The first part of a three-part installation (it runs through March 31, and will be followed later this year by Quotidian Pasts and Banal Presents), Colored People Time: Mundane Futures is a provocative, fascinating look at the way the Black American experience has shaped and really provided the framework for our larger American experience. It provides essential insight into the ways in which Black discourse has worked outside of time, making clear that the future that is only now coming into being is actually referential to moments that have already past. An example of this is the exhibit's copy of The Ten-Point Program laid out by the Black Panther Party in a 1972 issue of its eponymous publication; it's almost identical to the political proposals of politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. —Kristin Iversen

Photo courtesy of New Museum

New Museum, Nari Ward: We The People, opens February 13
Ward's sculptures use recycled objects found in Harlem (where he lives now) or Jamaica (where he grew up). This exhibition pays particular attention to Harlem as an important site for his creation.

Photo courtesy of Institute of Contemporary Art Boston

Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Nina Chanel Abney
The mural that Abney created for the ICA explores "social tensions in the digital age," paying special attention to "the constant stream of true and false information, the dilemma of liberal racism, and abuses of power that lead to structural inequality."

Photo courtesy of Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago, Dawoud Bey: Night Coming Tenderly, Black
The series of large-scale black-and-white images that Bey has taken take a look at African-American history. The sites photographed are some of the last stops on the Underground Railroad, and some of the last places seen by former slaves before they crossed over to freedom in Canada.

Frye Art Museum, Tschabalala Self
Self's work is positioned at an intersection between race, gender, and sexuality. Specifically, it investigates the "iconographic significance of the black female body in contemporary culture."

Photo courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Prisoner of Love
This short film shows what it feels like to live in America as a person of color and, in doing so, "tells a story of trauma and transcendence." Video recordings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Notorious B.I.G. are interspliced with footage from the news, concerts, and homes.

Photo courtesy of Hammer Museum

Hammer Museum, Hammer Projects: Jamilah Sabur
Ready to feel otherworldly? This video exhibition explores the act of navigation between the martial world and the transcendental plane and brings together ritual practices and digital technology.

Photo via Artsy

Atlanta Contemporary, Kevin Cole: When My Scars are my Testimony
Cole's exhibition is so personal that I'll leave it to him to explain it. In a statement from the artist, he notes that "the work is rooted in a place of targeted tragedy." He continues: "Its curvilinear twists, knots, and loops are fed by the energy found in the souls of ALL those who toil and triumph everyday against the odds and against the unheralded tragedies of life. My work is a universal story with both hero and villain, good and evil."

Photo courtesy of Rubell Family Collection

Rubell Family Collection, Purvis Young
Young spent his entire life "observing and documenting the lives, deaths, struggles, and dreams of the people around him." This exhibition is a comprehensive collection of what he created from that.

Photo courtesy of California African American Museum

California African American Museum, Adia Millett: Breaking Patterns, opens February 5
Millett is focused on understanding identity, personal memory, and collective history in her work, paying special attention to the history of African Americas, particularly women. For example, a series of quilts made of discarded clothing, sheets, other quilts, and curtains are intricately created, and "allude to domesticity and craftwork."

Photo courtesy of Pérez Art Museum Miami

Pérez Art Museum Miami, Ebony G Patterson ...while the dew is still on the roses...
Patterson creates layered surfaces of flowers, glitter, lace, and beads as a reference to and investigation of "forms of embellishment as they relate to youth culture within disenfranchised communities." Her work explores themes such as violence and masculinity as they shape the culture of her native Jamaica and within Black youth culture around the world.

Photo courtesy of Pérez Art Museum Miami

Pérez Art Museum, Arthur Jafa: Love is the Message, the Message is Death
Jafa's short film Love is the Message, the Message is Death is a celebration of the huge successes that Black Americans have had in a country that so ruthlessly works against them. The video intersects huge victories with the suffering and pain they have been subject to, showing that the two are inseparable.

Photo courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami

Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, AFROCOBRA: Messages to the People
This exhibition acts as a celebration of the Chicago-based artist collective AFRICOBRA, which "helped define the visual aesthetic of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s." Work from the founding artists and other early members will be shown together.

Screenshot via YouTube

The band shared details about their new St. Vincent-produced album that will drop "you into the world of catastrophe"

Sleater-Kinney just shared more information about their St. Vincent-produced album and dropped a new single.

Per Billboard, Sleater-Kinney revealed that their new album, which they've been teasing since early this year and will be their first since No Cities To Love from 2015, will be called The Center Won't Hold. It's due out on August 16 via Mom + Pop Records. "We're always mixing the personal and the political but on this record, despite obviously thinking so much about politics, we were really thinking about the person—ourselves or versions of ourselves or iterations of depression or loneliness—in the middle of the chaos," Carrie Brownstein said in a statement. Corin Tucker further noted that the new album will "[drop] you into the world of catastrophe that touches on the election."

Janet Weiss noted that the band will "explore a different sound palette" with this album, and pointed to St. Vincent as the reason behind it. She said that St. Vincent "has a lot of experience building her own music with keyboards and synthesizers so she could be our guide to help us make sense of this new landscape and still sound like us."

To satiate us until then, the band released a lyric video for new single, "The Future Is Here," which is very grungy. Bump it, below.

Sleater-Kinney - The Future Is Here (Official Lyric Video)


This is so satisfying!

Even Jon Snow knows just how unsatisfying the final season of Game of Thrones was, and he's ready to apologize. Well, a deepfake of him is at least. A heavily-edited version of Snow's speech from the fourth episode—just before the bodies of those lost in the Battle of Winterfell get burned—now features Snow apologizing for the conclusion of the show and lighting the script on fire.

"It's time for some apologies. I'm sorry we wasted your time," Snow begins. "And I know nothing made sense at the end. When the Starbucks cup is the smallest mistake, you know you fucked up! We take the blame. I'm sorry we wrote this in like six days or something," he adds, before signaling to his peers to light the script with torches and "just forget it forever." "Fuck Season 8," he says before the pages begin to crackle and burn.

If there were more lines left to alter, we would have loved to see Snow also tackle how messy Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister's story line ended up, as well as Bran's kingship, Cersei's boring demise, and the water bottle appearance.

Watch the entire deepfake and try to heal the wounds left by HBO below.


Photo by Darren Craig

It premieres today, exclusively via NYLON

In LP's song "Shaken," the most recent single from her 2018 record Heart To Mouth, she tells the story of seeing her lover out with someone else—ouch. Today, exclusively on NYLON, she releases a cheeky animated music video that pokes fun at the song's heightened drama and perfectly demonstrates all the angst that comes with falling hard for someone.

"She looks at you like I used to/ And I'm just sitting in the corner sh-sh-shaken," LP sings, as the visual—with art by Maayan Priva—depicts the singer hanging out in a bar, watching the girl she likes meet up with another girl. Despite the situation's inherent drama, "Shaken" is less of a ballad and more of an upbeat bop. LP told us she loves the way "this little video captures some of the fun of the song, and its inherent comical anxiety." Sure, heartbreak isn't that funny, but our (sometimes) overly dramatic reaction to it kind of is.

"'Shaken' feels like a bit of a wild card on this record," LP says. "It's the closest I've come to writing a musical, which I hope to do one day." We heartily endorse this idea: Please, LP, give us the queer jukebox musical we crave.

Until that day comes, though, you can watch the music video for "Shaken," below.

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Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.

This cameo has the Beyhive buzzing

I went to see Men In Black: International alone. Which would have been fine if it wasn't for the shock I received when I saw two specific characters on the screen. Unable to keep it to myself, I shared a curious look with the stranger next to me, who was obviously thinking the same thing as me. "Is that them...?" I whispered first. "I think… so," she replied. Then the two men in question started to dance, and we were both sure: "Yep, that's them."

It was Laurent and Larry Nicolas Bourgeois, better known as Les Twins. Fans of Beyoncé will recognize the duo as the talented brothers who often accompany her on tour and in music videos. In Men In Black: International, the two of them play shapeshifting entities—they're more like energy forces than aliens—who pursue Tessa Thompson's and Chris Hemsworth's characters throughout the duration of the film. The twins' ability to manipulate their bodies in ways that are graceful and otherworldly really helps sell them as extraterrestrials and is fun to watch.

So if Thompson in a suit or Hemsworth shirtless weren't enough motivation, here's another reason to go see it. If you look close, you can see them in the trailer below.


Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

"I am honored to share this bonding experience with my own daughter"

In a heart-warming Instagram photo, Serena Williams shares the history of hair braiding and the importance of the tradition. The tennis player shared a photo of herself braiding her daughter Olympia Ohanian's hair and spoke about how "honored" she was to be able to "add another generation" to the tradition of the practice.

The photo shows Williams attentively braiding her daughter's hair while Olympia smiles, obviously loving the experience. Williams noted that hair braiding was created by the Himba people in Namibia, Africa, and that "we have been braiding our hair for centuries." "In many African tribes braided hairstyles were a unique way to identify each tribe," she continued.

Williams pointed out that braiding is a bonding experience. "People would often take the time to socialize," she wrote. "It began with the elders braiding their children, then the children would watch and learn from them. The tradition of bonding was carried on for generations, and quickly made its way across the world."

Williams closed her post with a sweet message about her daughter, saying that she's "honored to share this bonding experience" with her.

See the post, below.