Pieces by artist Lorna Simpsons blue love and Red are projected on the facade of the Musée d’art contemporain de Saint-Louis (CAM) every evening since September 2021. These two works are animations based on period copies of Ebony and Jetpublications that have long celebrated black life and culture.
Now, on February 17, CAM is hosting “D: Ebony and Jet“, a public discussion centered on the two magazines. This open, community-driven dialogue will revolve around the role these publications have played in American culture. CAM’s Director of Learning and Engagement, Michelle Dezember, oversaw programming for the event.
“Our goal is really to celebrate the role that these landmark publications have had on American culture as a whole and to celebrate black excellence, seen through the eyes of the magazine and through the art of Lorna Simpson, and for people feel like they have a connection to the artwork that is personal,” says Dezember.
Much of the program will discuss Lorna Simpson Heads exhibition presenting the works blue love and Red. The exhibition will end at the end of this month.
“These are beautiful animated collages that use stock footage from Ebony and Jetsays Dezember. “Lorna Simpson will animate the crown of the head. She does that in a lot of different series. Sometimes they’re pasted on with paper, sometimes she uses watercolor. And in this case, it’s animation. power and beauty emanating from it, just bringing it to life in a new way.These numbers play such an important role, and the magazine plays such an important role.
The program will be moderated by art historian and curator Bridget R. Cooks, author of Expose the darkness and associate professor at the University of California, Irvine. There will also be other guest speakers specializing in race studies. The discussion will function as an open dialogue between contributors and community members in attendance, and attendees are encouraged to make the event a conversation rather than a panel discussion.
“We invited a few people to start the conversation, but then we’ll ask community members at the event if they’d like to share their favorite memory or their favorite thing about the magazine over the years,” Dezember says.
In addition to the discussion, interactive art experiences will also be offered. Customers will have the opportunity to make their own collage, as well as have their picture taken at kiosks that will place their portrait on the cover of a Ebony Where Jet magazine. Programming is built primarily around the goal of helping audiences see new perspectives and reflect on how American culture has been shaped by the popular media around us.
“I really believe that contemporary artists are able to show us our world and our life through a new lens,” says Dezember. “So I think it invites reflection and invites a personal connection with the artworks, the subjects. So I think we were really interested in doing something that felt like making art accessible.
“D: Ebony and Jettakes place February 17 at 6 p.m.