The Art of Black Dissent was founded and is organized by La Tanya S. Autry and Gabriella Svenningsen Omonte. The pop-up exhibition and dialogue program first opened in April 2016 at Yale University Art Gallery where they both work in the Photography department.
In 2014 as social unrest grew in the U.S. in response to the repeated cases of police violence against African-American citizens, La Tanya considered how she could promote community-centered discussions on this critical topic. As her colleague Gabriella was also keen to address the moment, they co-designed this pop-up exhibition and dialogue-centered program on black protest art. After earning praise at public sessions that they held at the Yale University Art Gallery, the duo decided to take the art to the people. They now bring their own collection of black protest art to New Haven public schools and public libraries.
La Tanya S. Autry is a Ph.D. candidate in the art history department at University of Delaware. She studies art of the United States, photography, and museums. Her dissertation The Crossroads of Commemoration: Lynching Landscapes in America analyzes how communities and individuals memorialize the history of lynching violence in the built environment through sculptural monuments, historical markers, and performances.
Outside of the dissertation, La Tanya works as a curatorial fellow in photography at the Yale University Art Gallery. She curated the exhibition Let Us March On: Lee Friedlander and the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom currently on view at Yale. The exhibition will tour multiple venues across the United States. She also co-curated the institution’s 2015 exhibition Donald Blumberg: Selections from the Master Sets and co-produced the accompanying two books.
Due to La Tanya’s longstanding interests in issues of race, the cultural work of art museums, and socially-engaged, collaborative work practices, she contributes to online discussions such as #museumsrespondtoferguson and #MuseumWorkersSpeak both on Twitter. In February 2015 La Tanya led the workshop #BlackLivesMatter Teach-In: Dismantling Anti-Black Racism in Visual Culture at the College Art Association conference. She shares her passion for the arts on various social media platforms- Twitter, WordPress, Flickr, and Pinterest – under the digital handle Artstuffmatters.
Gabriella Svenningsen is an illustrator, with a focus on visual culture for children and young adults. A native from southern Sweden, living and working in New Haven, CT, she is currently the artist in Residence at the New Haven Public Library, where she organizes monthly art workshops, introducing children and young adults from different backgrounds to art and art making.
Gabriella has a B.A. in Comparative Literature, with an Art History focus, at Lund University in Sweden, and is currently working on her Masters, specializing in interrelations between word and image. She has worked as a museum professional for the last 17 years; at the Serpentine Gallery and at the Tate Gallery in London, UK, and currently she is the Curatorial Assistant for Photography at Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven.
Starting in London in 2000 she began showing art on a grassroots level and organized several exhibitions and art projects in warehouses, empty buildings, and artist’s living rooms. The urge to make art inclusive and to share experiences via art fostered a sense of community, which she carried with her to New Haven. Since then she has been deeply involved with the local art community, most notably with “Ephemeroptera Quarterly” – a micro edition zine featuring artists from New Haven and abroad. Under the umbrella of “Ephemeroptera” she co-curated the “Lima Foto Libre” pop-up exhibition – taking Peruvian Lima street photography to the streets of New Haven. “Ephemeroptera” also organized art projects and events with “Intercambio” – a diverse group of New Haven residents working to support and expand the creative community.
Her involvement with “The Art of Black Dissent” is a natural expansion of her engagement with sharing and creating art experiences for and with the community, to promote awareness and conversations about social injustices.