New York, NY
Muhal Richard Abrams is a pianist, composer, and cofounder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the influential Chicago-based free-jazz musicians’ collective. In 1961 he formed the Experimental Band with some of Chicago’s greatest jazz talents, including Eddie Harris and Roscoe Mitchell, which eventually led to the founding of AACM in 1965. AACM played a crucial role in the development of jazz and has launched many distinguished members, including Anthony Braxton and Henry Threadgill. In 1975 Abrams moved to New York, where he established a local AACM chapter in 1983. He has performed with Max Roach, Dexter Gordon, Art Farmer, and many other musicians and has released more than 25 recordings.
Terry Adkins describes himself as a “sculptor, musician, and latter-day practitioner of the long-standing African American tradition of ennobling worthless things.” He came to art from music and has created “recitals” in which he combines sculptures with live music. His found-object assemblages are often inspired by important African American historical figures, although his work is always abstract and lyrical. He has more recently produced videos. An inspiration to other artists of color for his uncompromising stance, he is also a dedicated teacher at the University of Pennsylvania.
Alvin Aningayou is a Yupiq carver who scrimshaws his intricately carved animals in the tradition of Saint Lawrence Island work. Using the customary materials of walrus and whalebone, he carves seals and whales and then painstakingly stipples pigment onto them, gradually adding shading and other details. Aningayou, who learned the techniques from his father and brother, now supports his family with his work.
Los Angeles, CA
Michael Asher is one of the most important and influential conceptual artists in the United States. Since the late 1960s he has created projects that examine how museums and galleries display art and how institutional practices affect our understanding of art. Rather than creating objects, he works with the museum’s architecture and physical structure, a strategy known as institutional critique. Asher’s “post-studio” classes at California Institute of the Arts, as well as his writings, have influenced a generation of diverse artists—including painters, sculptors, and political artists—encouraging them always to question the social and historical contexts in which they work.
Julie Bargmann is internationally recognized for her innovative work in building regenerative landscapes on derelict sites. She is the founding principal of D.I.R.T. (Design Investigations Reclaiming Terrain or Dump It Right There) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Since 1992 D.I.R.T. has worked with architects, artists, engineers, historians, and scientists in abandoned industrial sites to revitalize manufact-uring operations (Ford River Rough Plant, US Steel South Works) and urban infrastructures (Hudson Yards, the High Line). Rather than simply cleaning and covering up toxic areas, Bargmann restores them so that they heal themselves, producing clean air, water, and soil while retaining visual links to their industrial pasts.
Working in a variety of media, Andrea Bowers mines the intersection between political activism and art. She is interested in the role of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience in the lives of women. She begins by conducting archival research on a topic, then creates photorealist drawings, videos, and/or performances that are more poignant than dogmatic. Bowers seeks to contextualize historical events (such as the struggle for reproductive rights) in relation to our contemporary situation.
Industrial designer Stephen Burks founded his studio, Readymade Projects, in 1997. He has developed products for major commercial firms such as Boffi, Calvin Klein, Cappellini, Estee Lauder, and Missoni. He was the first African American designer to work with any of these companies. He has also served as a design consultant for the nonprofit Aid to Artisans and the Nature Conservancy in South Africa, Peru, Mexico, India, and Australia, collaborating with local artisans to find international markets for their products. As a result of those experiences, Burks has developed an interest in a new production model wherein machine parts are combined with handmade elements to create unique objects that can be distributed globally through major brands.
Jamaica Plain, MA
Ann Carlson is a dancer, choreographer, and performance artist. She creates “dances that reflect and investigate the metaphor of the everyday” and are coauthored by the performers, who have included non-dancers, such as lawyers, doctors, and nuns (“the real-people series”). With a background in visual and performance art, Carlson often shows her work in unconventional dance sites, including museums, trains, and barnyards.
Musician, composer, and kumu hula (hula teacher) Robert Cazimero was instrumental in the resurgence of authentic Hawaiian music and dance in the 1970s. As a vocalist, he performs solo and on piano with his brother Roland as the Brothers Cazimero and has released more than 30 albums. Cazimero is one of the most respected teachers of Hawaiian dance. With his troupe, Halau Na Kamalei, he is dedicated to the dying tradition of male hula, and the group has won many hula competitions.
Jeff Chang writes about politics, popular culture, race, and music. Inspired by multiculturalism, hip-hop, and post-1960s youth and urban countercultures, Chang writes for various periodicals, lectures, and previous ran a blog on The Huffington Post. His first book, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (2005), is a sweeping and thoroughly researched cultural and political history of the post-boomer generation. It received an American Book Award and glowing reviews from periodicals as diverse asTime, The Nation, and Vibe, and is used as a textbook in many college courses. Chang has also edited an anthology, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop (2007).