Making Freedom Real

The Art of Black Dissent is one of the best things that we’ve ever created.
Over this past spring and summer, we collaborated with many New Haven area teachers and librarians to transition our project to non-museum community spaces. The students and other community members who participated in our sessions regularly shared insightful perspectives. So while our nation is embroiled in several crises at this moment, the responses and support we’ve encountered has made us feel hopeful about the future. Through working together, we can, as writer James Baldwin charged, make freedom real.
We’ve produced a short video to highlight some of our favorite moments.






Spring into Action

The Art of Black Dissent has been going strong this spring. We’ve been popping up all over New Haven.

New Haven Academy – March 2017


NewHavenAcademy-20170331_181910 (2)





Institute Library – April 2017




Citywide Youth Coalition, New Haven Free Public Library – April 2017



Yale University, “Storytelling, Social Justice and Public Humanities,” American Studies class – April 2017



Metropolitan Business Academy – May 2017




The Art of Black Dissent, Women’s Rights Activism, and Nasty Women New Haven


The Art of Black Dissent, What Does Black Protest Look Like?, 2017, mixed media, 22″ x 30″

We were happy to participate in the Nasty Women New Haven exhibition last month at the Institute Library. As this initiative supports women’s rights, it intersects with our goal of racial justice.

It also encouraged us to consider how systemic gender bias has affected our collecting practices. When we reviewed our holdings, we found that most of the works were by male artists and depicted male subjects. This inequity especially troubled us because we oppose the widespread custom in the art markets as well as scholarly and museum spheres of preferential treatment for male artists.

Multiple factors contributed to our collusion in the disparity. As many of the objects in our collection relate to the 1960s, the tendencies of history colored our collecting practices. Scholarly accounts and documentary photography of the movement frequently spotlight men. Many of the signature photographs of the 1960s feature male leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Huey Newton, and Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Ture. Even today when artists appropriate those images and mix them with the new content they often re-inscribe gender imbalances in representation.


Dalila Paola, Food Justice, 2016
giclee print, 8” x 10”

When we responded to the Nasty Women New Haven exhibition’s call for participation, we began tearing our way out of this web by purposefully acquiring more works by women artists and representations of women. This clarified vision now shapes our ongoing activities. Now that we’ve heightened our awareness of this habit of inequity, we’ve joined the growing trend to center the organizing and achievement of women leaders.

Freedom Cannot Rest, Remembering Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin (1995-2012) was murdered five years ago on this day, February 26th. He was seventeen years old.

This print by Ricardo Levins Morales features a poignant quote from civil rights organizer Ella Baker –
“Until the killing of black men, black mother’s sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

Related articles:

Benjamin Crump, “5 Years After Trayvon Martin’s Death, What Has Nation Learned,” USA Today, February 23, 2017.

Mychal Denzel Smith, “A Host of New Groups are Reviving the Grassroots Fight for Racial Equality,” The Nation, August 27, 2014.


Going Live in New Haven

During the fall and winter we acquired various works of art for our collection. Now that we have catalogued most of our new holdings and have made even more contacts with New Haven teachers and librarians we’re ready to share the pop-up in New Haven. We’re starting out in high schools. To see what we’re spotlighting, check out The Art of Black Dissent checklist.



Art in this shot: Criminal Justice Reform Now by Chip Thomas @jetsonorama; Spectres of Liberty by Dara Greenwald, Olivia Robinson, and Josh MacPhee @jmacphee; A Man Was Lynched Yesterday; and Silent Protest Parade on Fifth Avenue, New York City