Calmese thinks that the power dynamics are beginning to shift as more black people enter positions of power and make decisions that are considerate of marginalized communities; that makes it less likely for this collective awareness and production of black art to be momentary. “There’s power, there’s excellence, there’s a different level of conversation to be had when you bring in diverse voices,” Calmese said. “I think black people are just turning to each other and saying, ‘Let’s just do our shit.’”
To that end, Calmese points to Rujecko Hockley, an assistant curator at the Whitney
who he has photographed for this project. Hockley co-curated ’s
2017 exhibition “To Wander Determined,” and will also organize the museum’s 2019 biennial. Prior to her current position, she worked as a curator at the Brooklyn Museum
, where she curated the much-acclaimed “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965–85,” an exhibition centering women artists and activists of color.
Ultimately, the “Black Art Yearbook” demands for black art to hold a credible stake in the industry at large; the people featured in the archive so far exemplify just that. “When all is said and done…there’s documentation of this group of people who existed, who were working, who were pushing, and perhaps passively protesting in their own way,” Calmese said. “It’s not a resistance or buttressing against whiteness. This is about black people for black people.”