Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2016 Poster Session

Today, our Fellows presented aspects of their ongoing research projects at our annual poster session.
















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AALCI 2016

Meeting with Dean Agbenyiga

Fellows meet with UTSA, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School Brenna LaFa Agbenyiga.

On June 21, we met with DeBrenna LaFa Agbenyiga, Vice Provost and Dean of the graduate school at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). It was an important opportunity for the Fellows to converse with a university leader and get first-hand information about pursuing graduate studies at UTSA.

During our time with her, Dean Agbenyiga discussed specific programs offered by the graduate school at UTSA. She discussed funding and professional support, and she responded to questions about various processes and opportunities of graduate study at the university.

She also talked about her on journey from student to professor to assistant and associate dean positions to Dean. The Fellows and I were quite impressed. Dean Agbenyiga's leadership, thoughtfulness, and accomplishments are inspiring.       

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AALCI 2016

Harriet Kelley: A treasured art collector


Harriet Kelley gives an overview of the McNay

What a wonderful time we had. On June 21, the Fellows, Institute founder/director Joycelyn Moody, and I spent the morning touring the McNay Art Museum with one of our country's most important African American art collectors, Harriet Kelley.

Beginning in the 1980s, Kelley and her husband Harmon Kelley devoted themselves to learning as much as they could about artworks by African Americans, and they began collecting.  And collecting. Since that time, they have loaned pieces from their collection to museums across the country, making it possible for thousands and thousands of people to view magnificent works of art by black people from the late 19th century through the 20th century. 


Harriet Kelley meets with AALCI Fellows and Joycelyn Moody

When the Kelley's began collecting, she informed us, there was no Internet with images of rare paintings by black people. So she and her husband wrote to people in places where paintings were, and in return, they received Polaroid images of works by artists that they were seeking. Sometimes the images were of such poor quality that the Kelley's had to struggle to confirm whether they were viewing authentic pieces.

But they persisted. They traveled the country collecting works and attending exhibits. Along the way, they became increasingly knowledgeable and greatly respected for their contributions preserving African American artistic works. 

Harriet Kelley discusses a work by Jacob Lawrence.

On Tuesday, we enjoyed the benefits of Kelley's expertise and generosity. She walked us around the museum and showed us a variety of paintings and sculptures, some of which were donated by the "Harmon and Harriet Kelley Foundation for the Arts" to the McNay. 



Related: 
Art collector Harriet Kelley & AALCI
AALCI 2016
The Harmon & Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper
 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Response to Tyehimba Jess

Re: Tyehimba Jess's "When I Speak of Blues Be Clear"

When Tyehimba Jess "Speaks of Blues Be Clear" about a few things because he is clear about them. For one, the blues are infused with an undeniable historicity, they synthesize legends and folktales, and they are about good feelings just as much as bad ones. Once you acknowledge all that the blues mean and bring to the fore for its creators, black folks, then you'll hear yourself in them Jess seems to say--and neither you nor they "will ever die."

Angel Dye


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AALCI 2016

Responses to Kevin Young


Re: Kevin Young's "Bling Bling Blues"

“Bling Bling Blues” examines how one changed their situation and is now rich, but still suffers from the ills of being black. How refreshing is it for someone to acknowledge that no matter how much money you have, you cannot pay off the ill wills of racism? I would like to hear a poem about the downsides to being rich as well; like the old saying goes, “Some people are so poor all they have is money.”

Nia Brookins
Fort Worth, TX, June 8, 2016
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Re: Kevin Young's "Bling Bling Blues"

How much does black skin cost, and will it be a fair trade?

Courtney Harris
San Antonio, TX 2016
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Re: Kevin Young's "Femme Fatale"
Always attracted to what Toni Morrison terms "outlaw women" in her foreword to Sula, I am no less fascinated by Kevin Young's persona Delilah Redbone in his poem "Femme Fatale." There is an intentionality about her appeal and awareness of her sexuality that makes her powerful. And as I hope to explore further in literature with other characters, Redbone also embodies a connection between sexuality and spirituality: "in these merciless heels, / I reach & inch that much / closer to heaven."

Angel Dye


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AALCI 2016

Response to Robert H. Frank's "Why Luck Matters..."

Re: Robert H. Frank's "Why Luck Matters More Than You Might Think"

I agree that it is important to acknowledge luck when talking about our life achievements, but at what point can one be considered self-made? I believe that it is possible to work for what you earn so much that you deserved to be in the right place at the right time; so with that in mind, one may be able to earn their “luck”.

Nia Brookins
Fort Worth, TX, June 17, 2016

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AALCI 2016

Responses to Toni Morrison's "Sweetness"

Re: Toni Morrison's "Sweetness"

Toni Morrison, in this excerpt "Sweetness", tells the story of a light skinned woman so ashamed of her daughter's dark complexion that she raises with a cold shoulder and the two become estranged. Morrison not only highlights the issue of colorism in the black community but the tension created in relationships between children and parents who act distant. This reader hopes that readers who are parents and children alike will take heed and avoid developing such relationships.

Zari Taylor
University of Virginia

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Ms. Morrison,

Each time you write about the position of race and skin color, why is it only for black women?

Questions for Kincaid and Morrison:
• Why is the relationship between black mothers and black daughters always a disaster?
• Why do black women in literature always accept the injustice in the world?
• Why do black women authors never write about present-day sexuality, injustice, womanhood? Or acknowledge that the world is changing when writing about relationships?
Miela Fetaw,
Milwaukee, WI
Friday, June 17, 2016

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AALCI 2016