Lynne’s introduction to the incubator came at a dinner she had with Drew at the Black Swan in Bed-Stuy last year. “We’re wrapping up dinner and she’s putting on her coat and said, ‘By the way, would you be interested in doing this Recess project with me?’” Lynne said laughing. “I said, of course, let’s do it.” Brown described the collaboration between the four organizers as a “serendipitous meeting of the minds.” Lynne and Aldridge worked together on Arts.Black, while Brown and Lynne knew each other through a mutual friend.
Early conversations saw the group tackling important questions (often via Google Docs), like “How do we imbue this project with a collective spirit of cultural inheritance that we are all really proud to own, that very much matters to us? How do we hold that and ensure that other folks that may not operate from that cultural lexicon feel welcome and invited in that space?” Lynne said. “I remember feeling like ‘the black art incubator’ sounds nice, coming off the tongue, but it also feels rooted in my cultural lexicon, without being hostile to other vantage points and identities. And that was important to do.”
When they first submitted the names of those invited to be a part of The Black Art Incubator, a staff member at Recess pointed out that everyone on the list was black. The fact hadn’t occurred to the four organizers “in the same way a white person wouldn’t walk into a board room and think ‘oh, everyone here is white,’” Brown said. “To dare to think outside of one’s identity context—or to say yeah, we have Thomas Lax and Adrienne Edwards and countless other people involved and we share certain intersecting identities—to be able to take that for granted momentarily is really important collectively.” And indeed, she notes, “Black artists have always had community, have always had fellowship, have always collaborated together. So we’re not doing anything new, we’re just existing and daring to exist in a black creative world.”