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Walker Art Center Presents Creative Black Music Exhibition

The Minneapolis museum's digital program features performances by the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Betty Carter, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Henry Threadgill, and more

The Art Ensemble of Chicago at the Walker Art Center in 1980
The Art Ensemble of Chicago (left to right: Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Famoudou Don Moye, Joseph Jarman, and Malachi Favors) at the Walker Art Center in 1980 (photo courtesy of the Walker)

The Walker Art Center, a multidisciplinary center for contemporary art in Minneapolis, has launched Creative Black Music at the Walker: Selections from the Archives, a digital exhibition that is part of the Walker’s Living Collections Catalogue. The exhibition features rare archival recordings (video and audio) from the Walker’s nearly 60-year history of presenting live performances by cutting-edge Black musical artists.

The Living Collections Catalogue was conceived three years ago as part of the Walker’s multiyear Interdisciplinary Initiative (2016–2020), supported by the Mellon Foundation, which explores the intersections of the performing and visual arts.

The exhibition features streaming recordings, as well as historical photographs, correspondence, and ephemera from Walker performances by the Art Ensemble of Chicago (in 1980), Amiri Baraka (1980), Anthony Braxton (1983), Betty Carter (1983), Ornette Coleman with Bang on a Can (2005), Julius Eastman (1980), Wadada Leo Smith (2012), Cecil Taylor (1990), and Henry Threadgill’s Air (1983).

In addition, the online exhibition features a detailed timeline of Black musical performances at the Walker from 1963 to 2019; a written foreword by Philip Bither, Walker’s McGuire Director and Senior Curator of Performing Arts; and a historical essay by scholar Tammy L. Kernodle.

Scholars Danielle A. Jackson and Simone Austin, Walker Interdisciplinary Fellows in Visual and Performing Arts, serve as the curators for Creative Black Music at the Walker.