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TOPIC: Visual Arts

How SOUL! Helped Pave the Way for Black Cultural Programming

By Ade D. Adeniji Mr. SOUL! explores America’s first Black variety television show SOUL!, which ran from 1968 to 1973, and was steered by pioneering Black producer and host Ellis Haizlip. Many have likely seen the pristine sets of SOUL! and not even know it. The series featured legendary black musicians, artists, athlete-activists, and thinkers … READ MORE

From Kilroy to Pepe: A Brief History of Memes

By Lennlee Keep What do Pepe the Frog, the Spanish Inquisition, the blinking guy, the French Revolution, concern for the environment, and the Third Reich all have in common? These are all ideas that spread until they became pervasive throughout a culture or country. According to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, they are also all cultural … READ MORE

The Challenge of Making a Film About Racist Relics

Filmmaker and teacher Chico Colvard’s first feature doc, Family Affair, premiered at Sundance and was the first film acquired by Oprah Winfrey for her cable channel, OWN. The searingly personal documentary explored his family’s own troubled history that ultimately had a message of forgiveness and resilience. While his new film Black Memorabilia is less personal, it maintains … READ MORE

The Art of the Sneaker

One of the many quiet revelations for me in the documentary The Art of the Shine is that despite being in what seems like a casual and disposable culture, many people these days actually still take great pains to care for their shoes, including partaking in the ancient art of shoe shining. Whether brown leather … READ MORE

Censored Iranian Artists, Poets and Musicians Threatened with Exile

[Note: Please enjoy this guest essay on Iranian artists and censorships, in conjunction with the broadcast premiere of When God Sleeps, by artist and game creator Kurosh ValaNejad. See more on him at the end.] by Kurosh ValaNejad, guest contributor In the Islamic Republic of Iran, artistic expression is not denied.  Iranians can sing and dance … READ MORE

Breaking Barriers on Stage: African American Ballet Dancers Who Made History

As we learn in A Ballerina’s Tale, Nelson George’s new documentary about Misty Copeland [February 8; check local listings], Eurocentric standards of body shape, muscle tone, and skin color excluded dancers who didn’t fit the wan mold demanded of prima ballerinas. All that changed in the summer of 2015, when Misty Copeland, a rising star already transcending the rarified … READ MORE