The Black Home as Public Art

Aug. 26 to Sept. 30, 2024, All Day
Organized by Associate Professor Charles L. Davis II, this exhibition and symposium highlights artist-led interventions into the Black home that provide a new model of architectural practice and broaden our understanding of the built environment.
Exterior of a house in Louisiana with colorful triangles painted on the facade

The Black Home as Public Art consists of an exhibition and symposium examining creative notions of the Black home in the United States during the postwar period. 

The exhibition will be on display August 26–September 30, and will present eight artist-led practices that employ adaptive reuse and public art strategies to reinterpret the Black home to inflect the demands of Black social movements, contemporary politics, and racial uplift. These include designers like Theaster Gates, Tyree Guyton, and Amanda Williams who have built their practices on reforming the detached housing typologies found in working-class neighborhoods in the United States into a form of publicly engaged art. Contributions of featured projects range from the introduction of new multifunctional interior spaces and the painting of exterior surfaces of a building (as a public canvas) to the commissioning of a building study and the installation of contemplation gardens that transform an empty lot of a dilapidated neighborhood into an open air living room. 

The September 11–12 symposium will bring together designers, historians, curators, and archivists for interdisciplinary discussions about these projects, their significance, and the importance of pluralizing the architectural canon for a more holistic understanding of our built environment.

This program is organized by Associate Professor Charles L. Davis II and serves as the inaugural edition of a series that seeks to lay the groundwork to establish a Black Space Archive documenting creative interventions into the built environment, to support and expand future scholarship. It is supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, an Arnold W. Brunner Grant, and the McDermott Excellence Fund.

Additional details to follow. 


5 p.m. Keynote Address:  
Dell Upton, UC Berkeley and UCLA


9:30 a.m. Light Breakfast and Coffee 

10 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks 
Dean Heather Woofter and Charles L. Davis II

10:30–11:30 a.m. Komozi Woodard, Sarah Lawrence College 
Presenting on Botelli, Ohland & Martins’ Kawaida Towers (commissioned by Amiri Baraka)

11:30–12:30 p.m. Scott L. Ruff, RuffWorks Studio and Pratt Institute  
Presenting on Rick Lowe’s Project Row Houses (Third Ward, Houston, Texas)

12:30–2 p.m. Break

2–3 p.m. Curry J. Hackett, Wayside Studio 
Presenting on Amanda Williams’ Color(ed) Theory Houses (Chicago, Illinois)

3–4 p.m. Aisha Densmore-Bey, Designer 
Presenting on Theaster Gates’s Dorchester Projects (Chicago, Illinois)

4–5 p.m. Closing Discussion

This event is free and open to the public, with a live webcast available for the September 11-12 symposium. Seating provided on a first-come, first-served basis; no registration required. If you need accommodations for this event, please contact at least five business days in advance. 

Parking Information: Metered street parking around the school is possible but usually difficult to find during the semester. The closest parking garage to the school is the privately-owned Dobie Mall Parking Garage on Whitis Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets. There are also several surface parking lots (approx. $5–6/day) on Whitis Avenue between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 21st Street. These are all less than a 5-minute walk to the school. The university also operates several parking garages, but these are located farther from the school.

Carol M. Highsmith, “Art house” in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, February 10, 2021. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artist