The Black List Project
When I went to the Brooklyn Museum over winter break, my destination was Gilbert & George. Along the way, I was distracted by a modern white cubicle-type space set up in the middle of the traditional dark-lit floor. Four temporary walls encased twenty-five photographs of African Americans; flat screen TVs outside ran interviews.
The subjects ranged from Toni Morrison to Will Smith to Colin Powell. The exhibit was The Black List Project, by photographer/filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and public radio host/former Times film critic Elvis Mitchell (the interviewer). It is on display at the Brooklyn Museum until March 29th. The Black List Project also includes a book and film component (Volume Two of the documentaries is premiering on HBO February 26th).
I saw the exhibition with my friend, and her reaction seemed to be, “Oh, a bunch of portraits. Great, now let’s move on.”
However, I think it’s important that we take some time to honor important and accomplished African Americans in our museums. We have countless paintings of old white men hanging in gilded frames. It’s about time we had some black faces.
These incredible people’s stories are told on the TV monitors lining the walls, in The Black List the book, and on the HBO documentary. The stories are told in the dark and confident eyes of Serena Williams, tennis star, and in the knowing smile of Vernon Jordan, UNCF director, Bill Clinton’s lawyer, and more. I’m glad we are taking some time to recognize them, and I think that’s art.