Art Basel Miami Beach is primarily known for its lighthearted, beach-side vibe, with lots of shiny artworks setting the backdrop for celebrity social media feeds. But this year, the activist movement Black Lives Matter is adding a healthy dose of social consciousness with its presence at the fairs—the latest of several forays it has made into the art world in recent times.
In November, activists launched an online store selling limited-edition tote bags and other products bearing designs by Emory Douglas, the influential artist for the Black Panther Party. Now, for Miami Art Week, the Black Lives Matter Global Network is launching new merchandise created with artist Hebru Brantley, who incorporates the ethos and visual aspects of the AfriCOBRA movement that originated in Chicago’s South Side in the 1960s and ’70s.
Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the movement, is also trying her hand at curating this week. For a group show at the New Art Dealers Alliance fair, she has selected a range of works by emerging black artists, including Sadie Barnette, Damon Davis, Kandis Williams, Oto Abasi, and Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, as well as apparel pieces and numbered prints from the capsule collection with Emory Douglas.
Cullors is also hosting panel discussions at NADA and Prizm, an art fair dedicating to promoting work by artists from Africa and the global African Diaspora. The talk at NADA looks at the intersection of the arts with social activism, and feature Cullors along with poet Aja Monet and visual artists Noé Olivas and Tiffany Latrice.
Following her talks, Cullors will perform a traditional Yoruba practice using natural materials like honey, salt, and water. The performance is intended to invite audience members to remember their cultural and spiritual origins.
“Black radical artists play a critical role in shaping the public imagination on the resilience of black people. Our art centers the pain, and the brilliance that dictates the world of Black people,” Cullors said in a statement about the movement’s mission to incorporate arts and culture into its activism. “We are grateful to NADA and Prizm for giving us the space to celebrate the many years of cultural work lead by our people.”