Dr. Robin J. Hayes, Creative Director of Progressive Pupil, will share updates about two of our projects at the internationally acclaimed Black Portraitures Conference at Harvard University. This year’s conference, which coalesces artists, activists and scholars together to discuss images of Black bodies in mainstream art, focuses on “The Color of Silence.” Tiphanie Yanique, prize-winning author of Land of Love and Drowning, will join Dr. Hayes on a panel to discuss their television series Fortune Bay. UC Berkeley professor and author Dr. Leigh Raiford will discuss her collaboration with Hayes on their new multi-platform project Inside Exile: Kathleen Neal Cleaver and her Black Panther Family. Dr. Courtney Baker of Occidental College will moderate. The conference is free and open to the public.
Happy Labor Day Weekend!
Between screening Black and Cuba and working on my new multi-platform project 9 GRAMS, I’ve spent some time this summer thinking about the Black woman’s image. Of course in one way or another I’ve been thinking about it my entire life by looking in the mirror and beholding the relentless glamour of my mother and grandmother while I was growing up. In creating films that center Black women’s perspectives and – frankly- a lifetime of struggling to valorize my own, I’ve come to realize the most empowering and aesthetically beautiful representations of Black women are the ones we create ourselves.
Saluti dall’Italia! Greetings from Italy!
I hope you’ll join me in congratulating two new alumni of the New Leaders for Social Change program—Xiomara Pedraza and Justyn Richardson—who both earned their Master’s degrees in Urban Policy from The New School last week. During their time with Progressive Pupil, Xiomara and Justyn have blossomed from exceptionally intelligent and dedicated youth to experienced resourceful professionals. Although their time in our office has ended, their careers as social justice advocates are just commencing. I look forward to the impactful things they will accomplish in their work as social justice advocates.
I am currently attending the 2nd NYU Black Portraitures Conference in Florence—convened by Henry Louis Gates, Thelma Golden, Deborah Willis, and Cheryl Finley among others—which focuses on “imaging the Black body” and “re-staging history.” Given these themes, it is especially fitting that I will be giving a presentation about portraits of Black radicalism in Black and Cuba this Sunday.
Making Black studies for everybody requires creating fresh, empowering images of not only Black bodies, but of Black life and history. It also requires re-staging history so that it can be seen from the perspective of communities who have struggled to be seen as human and heard as citizens.
Earlier this week I was fortunate to see the “All the Worlds Futures” exhibition at the Venice Biennale. This year is the first time in history an African artist—Okwui Enwezor—has curated the exhibition and that 25% of the artists exhibiting have been Black. The diverse, explicitly political work on display revealed that there is a global and vocal chorus of artists, activists, teachers, and allies who have a clear vision of the world’s futures—which include an end to exploitation and marginalization for everyone. I’ve posted some highlights of the exhibition, including work by Jason Moran, on my instagram @robinjhayes.
Yours in Solidarity and Ciao,
Robin J. Hayes
Principal Organizer, Progressive Pupil
Director, Black and Cuba [Available on Vimeo on Demand and DVD]