Inspired in part by the writings of Marcus Garvey and the teachings of Carlos Cooks, Kwame Brathwaite's (b. 1938, New York, NY) photography created the visual overture for the Black is Beautiful Movement in the late 50's and early 60’s. Brathwaite spread this idea through his writings and photographs, as well as the activities of the two organizations he helped co-found: AJASS (1956) and the Grandassa Models (1962). His career spanning over 6 decades has allowed him to document the intersection of music, fashion, activism and art globally throughout the diaspora.
Throughout the 60s Kwame Brathwaite produced reporting and pictorials for leading black publications such as The Amsterdam News, City Sun and The Daily Challenge. By the 70's, Brathwaite was one of the top music and cultural photographers, shaping the images of such public figures as Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Brathwaite wrote about and photographed such landmark events as the “The Motown Revue” at the Apollo (1963); “WattStax ’72” (1972); The Jackson 5’s first trip to Africa (1974); and the “Festival in Zaire” (1974) which accompanied the famous Foreman-Ali fight, “The Rumble in the Jungle."
Currently, Kwame Brathwaite is the subject of a major touring exhibition, “Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful.” The exhibition opened at The New York Historical Society (New York, NY) August 2022. “Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful” premiered at the Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles, CA); and traveled to the Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco, CA); Columbia Museum of Art (Columbia, SC); Blanton Museum of Art (Austin, TX); Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, MI); (Reynolda House, Durham, NC) with additional institutions forthcoming. A monograph of the same title, produced by the Aperture Foundation, was released May 2019 with essays by Deborah Willis, Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts of New York University and Tanisha C. Ford, Professor of History at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Brathwaite's work is featured in the touring exhibition, “Black American Portraits,” which opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, (Los Angeles, CA); and travels I to Spelman College Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA); and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (Memphis, TN). Brathwaite's work recently appeared in “This Tender, Fragile Thing” at Jack Shainman Gallery (Kinderhook, NY). His work has recently been acquired by such institutions as Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX); Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University (Chicago, IL); Pérez Art Museum Miami (Miami, FL); National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC); Museum of the City of New York (New York, NY); The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, NY); Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY); Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY); MIT List Visual Arts Center (Cambridge, MA); and Sharjah Art Museum (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates). Corporate collections include JPMorgan Chase Art Collection (New York, NY) and Sidley Austin LLP (New York, NY). Brathwaite’s work has recently appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vogue, New York Post, New York Magazine, National Geographic, Aperture, and other publications. Brathwaite retired in 2018 and lives in New York, NY with his wife Sikolo Brathwaite.
Kwesi Botchway was born in 1994, in Accra, Ghana — where he continues to live and work. Botchway has exhibited his work internationally for the past several years, including most recently with Maruani Mercier, in Brussels, Belgium and with Gallery 1957, in Accra, Ghana and in New York, NY. His work is included in such collections as the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, the Vanhaerents Foundation, Belgium, the High Fashion Foundation, New York, the Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Genevieve Gaignard (b. 1981) is a multidisciplinary artist from Massachusetts living and working in Los Angeles, CA. Her work elicits dialogue around race, beauty, and cultural identity. Last year she presented three solo exhibitions:"To Whom it May Concern," at Rowan University Art Gallery, Glassboro, NJ, "Strange Fruit," at Vielmetter Los Angeles, and "This is America," at The Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA. Her work has appeared in numerous group exhibitions, including The Nerman Museum, Overland Park, KS; Rennie Museum, Vancouver, CA; The Broad, Los Angeles, CA; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; The San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA; The Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA; The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Bentonville, AR; The Studio Museum, Harlem, NY. In July 2022, Gaignard partnered with Orange Barrel Media on Look At Them Look At Us: a permanent, site-specific public art installation in downtown Atlanta. Gaignard received her BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and her MFA from Yale University.
Rodney McMillian (b. 1969) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. He received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2002. Most recently his monumental landscape painting, shaft, 2021 – 22 was on view in the 2022 Whitney Biennial and his immersive 2012 vinyl sculpture, From Asterisks in Dockery was included in the groundbreaking touring exhibition The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, which originated at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Recent solo exhibitions of McMillian’s work include Historically Hostile, Blaffer Museum, Houston, TX; Videos from the Black Show, the Underground Museum, Los Angeles, CA; New Work, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; and Against a Civic Death, The Contemporary Austin, Austin, TX. McMillian’s work is included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; The Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY among many others.
Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972, Nairobi, Kenya) lives and works in New York and Nairobi and received her MFA from Yale University in 2000 and BFA from Cooper Union in 1996. Mutu will have a major solo exhibition at the New Museum in New York City opening March of this year. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Storm King, New Windsor, NY; Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, NC; Legion of Honor, San Francisco Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, CA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Des Moines Arts Center, Des Moines, IA; Austin Contemporary, Austin, TX; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, NY, among others. She has also been included in numerous important group exhibitions at Hayward Gallery, London, UK; The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC; Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; Museum of Moderne Kunst, Ishøj, Denmark; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland; Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA; Columbus Museum of Art and Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH; The Phillips Collection, Washington DC; The Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Johannesburg Contemporary Art Foundation, Johannesburg, South Africa, among others.
Paul Mpagi Sepuya (b. 1982, San Bernardino, CA) makes work that investigates visibility, the circulation of images, and racialization as material and subject position within photography. He received an MFA in photography at UCLA in 2016. In 2019 a survey of Sepuya's work was presented in a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis that traveled to the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas. Other recent solo exhibitions include "Drop Scene," Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE; "Double Enclosure," FOAM Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; "Portraits / Positions," KMAC Museum, Louisville, KY; and "STUDIO WORK," Platform Centre for Photography, Winnipeg, MB, Canada. Recent group exhibitions include "Masculinities: Through Photography and Film from the 1960s to Now," Barbican, London; "In Focus: The Camera," Getty Museum, Los Angeles; "Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now," Guggenheim Museum, New York; the 2019 Whitney Biennial; “Being: New Photography 2018," Museum of Modern Art, New York; and “Trigger” at the New Museum, New York. Sepuya's work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the International Center for Photography, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Carnegie Museum, among others.