DIASPORA, CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS & THE ART OF MICHAEL RICHARDS | A conversation with artist William Cordova and author Jeff Chang
Image: Michael Richards, Winged, 1999. Bonded bronze and metal, 20 x 38 x 4 inches. Photograph by Etienne Frossard, courtesy of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Ethnic-specific cultural institutions play an important role in supporting and advancing the work of artists of color. They highlight artists in exhibitions and public programs, providing context for community and audiences. Additionally, and importantly, their Artist-in-Residence programs also provide space and time for the development of work. MoAD’s “Emerging Artists” and “Artist-in-Residence” programs and The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Artist-in-Residence program, founded in 1968, are two such examples. Mission-driven and responsive to changing conditions over time, these programs offer critical physical, intellectual, and intimate space and opportunity for artists of African and Latinx descent to explore and share their artistic practice. Studio Museum Artist-in-Residence alumnus and artist William Cordova comes together with Jeff Chang, a thought leader in the area of cultural equity and justice in the arts sector, in a dialogue about artistic process, institutional support for the creation of new work, and the close relationships and mentorships that develop between artists in these spaces. Notably, the late artist Michael Richards played a significant role for William Cordova in providing an influential example of the type of institutional support available to artists, and motivated him to apply to and attend several such programs. Michael Richards was an incisive artist whose work addressed issues of racial inequity and social injustice; Richards tragically passed away on the morning of 9/11 while working in his LMCC World Views studio in the World Trade Center.
“Our conversations always involved our family roots in the diaspora. His Jamaican and my Peruvian lineage were as layered as our understanding that a label could not be so easily affixed in defining our identities.”
– William Cordova on Michael Richards in “An Alchemist at Work”
This program is presented in conjunction with significant and concurrent Bay Area arts events and exhibitions: Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem, a major traveling exhibition comprised of over one hundred works by nearly eighty artists from the 1920s to the present at MoAD; Michael Richards: Winged a solo exhibition of sculpture and drawing by the artist Michael Richards, on view January 22–March 24 at the Stanford Art Gallery, with an accompanying symposium Flight, Identity, Diaspora & Afterlife: A Symposium on the Art of Michael Richards, taking place on February 8, at Stanford University; and the California Association of Museums annual conference, themed “Changing the Narrative,” February 7–9 [Yerba Buena Progressive Evening]
DIASPORA, CULTURAL INSTITITIONS & THE ART OF MICHAEL RICHARDS is coordinated with Alex Fialho and Melissa Levin, co-curators of Michael Richards: Winged.
The discussion will be followed by a reception.
William Cordova was born in Lima, Peru in 1971 and moved to Miami, Florida at an early age, also spending time in Houston, Chicago, and New York. He graduated with a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996 and went on to earn an MFA from Yale University in 2004. He has participated in numerous artist residencies including Artpace, San Antonio, TX; The Core program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Woodstock Center for Photography, NY, The Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine; and American Academy in Berlin, Germany. Recent solo exhibitions of Cordova’s work include now’s the time: narratives of southern alchemyat Perez Art Museum, Miami (2018); ceiba: reconsidering ephemeral spaces at Davidson College, Davidson, NC (2016); yawar mallku: metaphysics of time and space at 80M2, Lima, Peru; and swing/SPACE/miami: william cordova – ceiba: reconsidering ephemeral spaces, MDC Museum of Art + Design at Miami Dade College, Miami, FL (2014). His work is included in collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Yale Art Gallery, New Haven; Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru; Ellipse Foundation, Cascais, Portugal; Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami; and La Casa de las Americas, Havana, Cuba; among others.
Jeff Chang is the Vice President of Narrative, Arts and Culture at Race Forward. He has written extensively on culture, politics, the arts, and music. His most recent book is We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation, was published in September 2016, praised by the Washington Post as “the smartest book of the year.” Jeff co-founded CultureStr/ke and ColorLines and writes regularly in major publications. Originally hailing from Honolulu, Hawai’i, he is a graduate of ‘Iolani School, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at Los Angeles. He recently served as the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University.
Michael Rolando Richards (1963–2001) was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. Richards moved back to the United States to attend Queens College, where he earned a BA in 1985. He received an MA from New York University in 1991, and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program from 1992–93. Recent exhibition venues include the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Arts Center at Governors Island. During his career, Richards held esteemed residencies with Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (2001); ArtCenter/South Florida (1997– 2000); and The Studio Museum in Harlem (1995–96), among others. In his lifetime, Richards had a solo exhibition at The Corcoran Gallery of Art in 2000, and was featured in several national and international two-person and group exhibitions. His work is held in the collections of institutions including The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; the Brooklyn Museum, NY; the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA; and the Pérez Art Museum Miami, FL. Franconia Sculpture Park, near Minneapolis, MN, is home to a permanent memorial to Michael Richards.