In the last few weeks, we’ve been reflecting on the exhibition I'M BLUE (IF I WAS █████ I WOULD DIE) by American Artist at Koenig & Clinton, (sadly now closed), on view the spring of 2019, but just as relevant now. More on Artist and their work here, and a talk on their more recent piece 2015 here.

Clip from Blue Life Seminar, 2019 by American Artist with text by Christopher Dorner, performed by Christopher Grant, animated by Matthew Mann & Tommy Martinez, music by Greg Fox
Bloomberg Businessweek Cover, Photo by Philip Keith

We’re so proud to share this cover from last week’s edition of Bloomberg Businessweek, designed by Albert Hicks IV (former designer at Wax) and photo directed by Wax Magazine founder Aeriel Brown. It’s an incredible use of design restraint in service of empowerment.

Schomburg Center Black Liberation Reading List by Schomburg Center Staff

In response to the uprisings across the globe demanding justice for Black lives, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has created a Black Liberation Reading List. Most of the books are available digitally for free via The New York Public Library’s SimplyE e-reader app on iOS and Android.

For 95 years, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has preserved, protected, and fostered a greater understanding of the Black experience through its collections, exhibitions, programs, and scholarship. The 95 titles on the list represent books we and the public turn to regularly as activists, students, archivists, and curators, with a particular focus on books by Black authors and those whose papers we steward.

We Must Topple the Tropes, Cripple the Canon, Ramon Tejada

We Must Topple the Tropes, Cripple the Canon. Ramon Tejada, designer and educator at RISD, has facilitated and assembled an extensive set of resources in the Decolonizing Reader — Collaborative (Open) Edition. Explore, contribute, and share your findings.

Here’s some driving, energetic, unapologetic free jazz from the Art Ensemble of Chicago, who were slated to play at BAM this May. Recorded in 1973, Fanfare for Warriors is a rare studio recording from the ensemble, and remains avant-garde to this day. Full album on Spotify.

Fanfare For Warriors, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, 1973
Portrait of George Floyd, Nikkolas Smith, 2020

In the days since George Floyd was killed, artists have taken to social media to share works honoring his memory, as well as those of Ahmaud Arbrey, Breonna Taylor, and other Black victims of police violence and racism. Consider contributing to the official George Floyd memorial fund here, or to his daughter, Gianna’s fund.

In Celebration of Black Music Month, watch Marvin Gaye sing What’s Going On Live. It’s just as relevant now as it was in 1972.

What's Going On Live, Marvin Gaye, 1972
“They’re Going to Kill Me (New York City)”, Jammie Holmes, 2020

Dallas-based artist Jammie Holmes, with support of Library Street Collective, flew airplane banners across the skies of five U.S. cities on Saturday, May 30, quoting George Floyd’s final words. The signs are beautifully documented on Holmes’ website. More on the story here.

Noah Conk, a San Francisco-based software developer, innovated an iOS shortcut that automatically blurs faces in photos and erases their metadata, allowing them to be shared without revealing any information as to where and when they were taken. Full story on Hyperallergic here.

Photo by Hakim Bishara for Hyperallergic
Clockwise from top left, Edouardo Jordan of JuneBaby in Seattle; Danielle Bell of de Porres in Los Angeles; Jonathan (Jonny) Rhodes of Indigo in Houston; and Subrina and Greg Collier of Leah & Louise in Charlotte, N.C. (Clockwise from top left: Grant Hindsley for The New York Times; Rozette Rago for The New York Times; Jenn Duncan; Alvin C. Jacobs Jr)

Tomorrow is Juneteenth, and “For observers and participants alike, Juneteenth is nourishment for the community; it’s fried green tomatoes, okra rice, peach pies, hot peppers and a moment to exhale. It’s an occasion to tease cousins about who makes the best potato salad, and for an unbroken circle of belly laughs, which are a balm while the storm clouds loom over every aspect of Black Americans’ lives.”

“I can not sell you this painting.” Artist Titus Kaphar honored the victims of police brutality and racist killings in his cover painting for Time magazine. Read his words to accompany the piece here.

George Floyd TIME Cover, Titus Kaphar, 2020
Octavia Estelle Butler, photo from African American Literature Book Club

The Lost Races of Science Fiction by Octavia Butler explores the question of why science fiction is so white? The Afrofuturist science fiction writer first published this essay in Transmission Magazine in 1980, but it still resonates today.

The incredible footage in The Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975 was captured by Swedsh filmmakers, but sat dormant for three decades. Filmmaker Goran Hugo Olsson discovered the footage, and decided he had a responsibility to share this footage of anti-war and Black Power movements in the US. Watch the trailer and full movie here or here.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, Göran Olsson, 2011
Mass Action, Nari Ward, 2016

We’re reminded of the work of Nari Ward, in particular his piece Mass Action, created for the 50 State Initiative in 2016 with For Freedoms.

In celebration of the recent Supreme court ruling, consider learning about and supporting The Okra Project — a collective that seeks to address the global crisis of violence by providing resources and meals to Black Trans people worldwide.

#ByOkra is a monthly Affinity and Wellness spaces for Black Trans people
Poster via Printed Matter,Inc.

Designing protest flyers?Printed Matter is announcing an open call for free pdfs of anti-racist posters, pamphlets, signs, flyers, organizing material, handouts and zines that provide information about the ongoing fight for racial equality and the movement to protect Black lives.

You may have been hearing about the term qualified immunity, maybe even acting to repeal it. Here are some great resources to learn about its history and why we should be move to end it.

Poster via Qualified Immunity
Photo from Cafe Rue Dix

We love to eat. So when we can sit across from each other again, let’s share a meal at one of these Black-owned restaurants in NYC. (Kellen recommends Cafe Rue Dix). And here’s a list of all the lists across the country! This is just the start of many other changes that need to be made.

Here’s a growing list of BIPOC Design studios (mostly architecture), and a collaborative list of Black designers and Black-owned studios (mostly graphic design).

Poster via Food New York Instagram
Image from Vocal Type Website

For this edition of A 2 Z 4 U, we reached out to Tré Seals, founder of Vocal Type. He directed us to a work-in-progress typeface he’s designing called Carrie (named after Carrie Chapman Catt — political strategist, suffragist, and peace activist). His fonts each “highlight a piece of history from a specific underrepresented race, ethnicity, or gender — from the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Argentina to the Civil Rights Movement in America.” Other works-in-progress, including a Stonewall-inspired font, can be found here.

We’re big fans of the Underground Museum in Los Angeles, a community-based art center founded by the late artist Noah Davis and his wife Karon Davis, now run with his older brother Kahlil Joseph. They’re currently closed to stay safe but you can still support their efforts here.

Photo from The Underground Museum Website
The End of Policing, Alex S. Vitale

Amidst the turmoil over police brutality, we cannot help but question the role of policing in society. The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale, attempts to spark public discussion by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control. On the same subject, listen to this Fresh Air podcast featuring ​Jamiles Lartey of The Marshall Project about systemic racism in American policing.

“We really are up against these profound changes in what we’ve come to know” — says Carrie Mae Weems in this beautiful short film by Artsy, directed by William Silva Reddington. The Future Acccording to Carrie Mae Weems.

The Future According to Carrie Mae Weems, Short film by Artsy, Directed by William Silva Reddington
Covers by Joan Wong via The New York Times

Ibram X. Kendi, author of How To Be An Anti-Racist, has compiled An Antiracist Reading List here. “Think of it as a stepladder to antiracism, each step addressing a different stage of the journey toward destroying racism’s insidious hold on all of us.”

Love is the message, the message is death, a short film by artist Arthur Jafa surveys 100 Years of Black American triumph and tragedy. Here’s more on the exhibition that traveled the country two years ago, and a talk with the artist at the Hirshhorn.

Installation view of Arthur Jafa: Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death, April 2–June 12, 2017 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Brian Forrest
How it Feels to be Colored Me, Zora Neale Hurston

Published in 1928, How it Feels to be Colored Me by Zora Neale Hurston is still incredibly poignant.


Black Lives Matter
Official George Floyd Fund
Gianna Floyd’s Fund (George’s daughter)
For Freedoms
The Marshall Project
The Okra Project
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
The Underground Museum



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