Student Blog Posts – active

Here you will post responses to the current museum visit or prompt.

INSTRUCTIONS:  1) Begin each post with you name and the title of the prompt–SAMPLE: John Doe, Dream Museum, SF MOMA.  2) If you missed a post from a museum field trip, please post in the blog archive.  3) Not required, but feel free to post responses to fellow student posts.

CURRENT POSTING PROMPT:  

Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD)

15 Replies to “Student Blog Posts – active”

  1. Museum of the African Diaspora: Thomas Jessop
    In general, I was unimpressed with this museum. Their space seemed utilized, and I don’t understand why they moved away from a historical focus to modern art. They are next door to SFMOMA and choosing to be an art museum feels like they are trying to be more specialized offshoot and ride on the coattails of the people that came to see the SFMOMA. Also when they explained the association with the Smithsonian it roughly translated in my understanding to paying to use the symbols and borrow of the Smithsonian’s credibility.
    One thing that they seemed to be doing quite well was the school out reach program. I looked a bit more into it after class and they are providing a great educational resource to under funded local schools.

    1. Laura Kemp
      Museum of the African Diapora (MOAD)
      The MOAD is a museum that I rarely visit, however, I was there recently for a different show.
      I really appreciated that Sedey, who as the Education Program Manager is new to MOAD, was our guide for the afternoon. She walked us through the “Black is Beautiful” exhibit, photographs from the 1950’s and 60’s by Kwame Braithwaite, a visually powerful celebration of Black artists, celebrities, and the Black communities of Harlem. I was particularly drawn to the large format portraits which radiated colour, pride, presence, and stunning beauty. Both Kwame Braithwaite and his older brother, Elombe Brath, were active in the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement of the era and formed the Bronx-based South-West Africa Relief Committee to support Sam Nujoma’s South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO). The photographs help illustrate the Black liberation struggles of that time and bring the celebration of Black culture to the forefront of the contemporary American experience.
      After our formal visit I went down to the ground floor to view the Baye Fall: Roots in Spirituality, Fashion, & Resistance show. I felt a personal connection to this show as my husband is of Senegalese origin. He has spoken with me about the Baye Fall, so it was interesting to learn a little more about this sub-group of Senegal’s Sufi Muslim community through the lens of photographer, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.
      Thanks to our visit, I will plan to make the MOAD a more familiar place in my deepening educational journey. As it states on the LEARN page of the website; “MoAD, a contemporary art museum, celebrates Black cultures, ignites challenging conversations, and inspires learning through the global lens of the African Diaspora”. I look forward to exploring and learning more through the innovative and ever-changing programming on offer at the museum. Thank you.

  2. Lindsey Hanson
    MOAD
    Our guide, Sedey, was so welcoming and good at corralling our wandering spirits, so that she could keep us on track, and include little anecdotes about the pieces, in Black is Beautiful, which was very much appreciated.
    When asked, by Ann, to engage in an Exploration Exercise, I tasted many exhibits before feeling uncomfortable by one of them. Karen Seneferu’s exhibit titled ‘Masquerade’ was a video, on a loop, of black people, of all ages, staring directly into the camera. Staring at me. Although intriguing (because of my impulse to stare at people, but immense fear of being caught, yet being afforded the ability to stare back, because it was only a video after all!) I also felt uneasy. The people in the video weren’t passively staring, they were emoting. Some people seemed to be emoting intense sadness, and others anger. It made me think about my role in their sadness and anger. It made me reflect on my ability to walk through this world without feeling my race on me at all times. The freedom of that, for no other reason other than systematic racism and classifications that separated people into the “other” category, and how I didn’t. Every exhibit in the MOAD was so joyous, a celebration of people and beauty and life, and then this one. This one was a reminder of contemporary people’s pain. There were translucent, antique photographs of black people superimposed on the video of people staring. As if to say “We have been here for so very long. Do not forget who build this country” My own ancestors only here for a meager 90 years. Children looking, wide eyed into the camera, making me ask myself “Am I doing enough?”
    Thank you for saving the MOAD for last. It truly was divine.

  3. Peggy Barbieri – The Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD)
    I have walked by the MOAD for many years and never took the time to find out what it held within its walls. I love this museum and agree with some of the other students’ comments that it was the best museum we visited this semester. Since it doesn’t have a permanent collection, I may be judging MOAD by its current exhibits which were fabulous and quickly drew me in. I look forward to going back to see future exhibits to test my initial impressions. But judging by the discussion with the bright, young dedicated staff that seemed full of pride in their work, my guess is that there is much more incredible work to come at MOAD.
    I was especially drawn to the photography of Kwame Brathwaite and its celebration of black beauty in hair and clothes that reclaimed their African roots and challenged conventional beauty ideas. I was particularly struck by Braithwaite’s two photographs, one all men, one all women, that appeared to be facing off in a school yard. The choice of clothing and hairstyles presented a wide variety of styles of the 60s and their solemn facial expressions challenged the viewers imagination of what may have been going on between the two groups. All of his photographs seemed to project a sense of African American pride which I found exciting and also,as it was stated, “a cultural tool” to present new political ideas.

  4. Constance MOAD

    I was very pleased to visit this museum. The staff was warm and inviting, as was the environment. I felt that although the museum was small, the beauty of the exhibits made it worth a visit. I especially enjoyed the photographs and the fashions on the third floor. I would like to return with friends to share with them this little bit of the early history of the Black Power Movement.

    I also appreciated hearing each staff members’ trajectory to becoming part of this museum. I was surprised to hear how closely related the two fields of education and museum studies are. I feel this would be an enjoyable place to be on a regular basis with all of their exhibits and community programs.

  5. Museum of the African Diaspora

    I was moved by Sedey’s response to a question about why she decided to work for MOAD. She replied that when she entered the museum, she felt she entered a place where she belonged which was a rarity for her, and that she felt a big responsibility to live up to the opportunity to make a difference in the world through her work. It was clear that the MOAD employees, who generously took time to meet with us, strongly believe in the museum’s mission: a contemporary art museum that celebrates Black cultures, ignites challenging conversations, and inspires learning through the global lens of the African Diaspora. With the themes of origins, movement, adaptation, and transformation, there is a clarity to the important work of this museum. Each exhibit, in its own unique way, responded to the mission in powerful and engaging ways. The museum’s activities (food, literature, poetry, etc.) appear to be meaningful ways to draw people to the museum and unite them as a community and I hope the museum can continue to build on its strengths – and help bring about change in our society so Sedey feels, as she should, that she belongs everywhere.

    Thanks to this class, I am now more aware of this museum (which I’ve cluelessly walked past many times), and I look forward to returning to it again and again. This visit sparked my interest and directed my reflection. In the exhibit, there was a piece that had a powerful message that has stayed with me, “I am qualified to lead conversations that concern my health, my self-expression, my body, my children, my elders, my future, and my dreams.” One should not have to be reminded of the basic respect everyone deserves.

    Thanks to all my classmates for your thoughtful reflections and sharing the links to relevant articles this semester. Carol, the New York Times and The Atlantic articles were spot on.

  6. Jeanine Catalano. Museum of the African Diaspora
    CLEARLY saved THE BEST for last. I am so glad we went to this museum. It had been on my list for years but for no good reason, I had never been here to view the art. Now I realize what I have been missing. Not only was it a welcoming, thoughtful museum with terrific art with a purpose, but our meeting with the staff was by far better than all of the meetings we had had with the staffs of other museums. I want to go back again and agin to see the art and perhaps do some volunteering some day.

  7. Visit to MOAD (Museum of African Diaspora)

    Awestruck by the sophisticated, ultra-modern exterior design element of MOAD, I was amazed at the see-through glass front facade, revealing the welcoming cool and relaxing features of the museum, the latest and last of the Yerba Buena Gardens inspired commercial spaces. It is no small wonder why Leslie and Ann saved the best museum for last, this semester (hopefully, not the last for Museum Studies!). Equally enamored with the interior space, I felt the energy of empowerment, the desire to explore the visually pleasing layout, encouraged by the contrast of white and blue wall tones. The exposed staircase between the three floors, give an accessible feel to the museum. Taking a mental break between galleries while ascending or descending between floors, one cannot help but to contrast the quiet stillness of the galleries, with the muted cacophony of the busy Mission & Third Street traffic corridor below. While the museum space appears sufficiently wide, the illusion of depth, belies the shallow exhibition space, which apparently, leaves only a limited 30 to 40 feet of depth in this narrow rectangular space for MOAD curators to improvise with.

    The first floor is connected to the St Regis Hotel by a narrow corridor, which hosted a small color photo exhibition by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, entitled, “Baye Fall: Roots in Spirituality, Fashion and Resistance”. There was no visible traffic through here during our visit…only the muffled sounds of a busy hotel lobby through the glass door can be heard.

    The second and third floors contained contemporary exhibits which consisted mostly of poster-sized black and white, and richly colored photographs impaneled on the wide perimeter walls, complemented with free-standing monoliths…perhaps a less challenging type of display to curate, allowing extensive open floor space to regulate flow and to enhance the experience. The low ceilings also imparted a sense of intimacy and belonging to the viewing. Having no permanent exhibits allows MOAD to concentrate on the present, rather than be conflicted with repatriation, decolonization, etc, since the museum’s inception in 2005.

    The “Black is Beautiful” exhibit, a 1950’s – 1960’s photo exhibit by Kwame Braithwaite, is a formalized close-up portraiture of the Black Movement, in particular, by the Grandassa Models. There is a high degree of pride in their representation, of their African American heritage, utilizing the contrapposto poses, for example, mimicking the exclusivity directed by the white-centric Madison Avenue advertisers. The goal is to inspire the ethnic pride of the ordinary everyday Black population, in their own urban environment. Fashion and accessories became such an important form of expression. It was an opportunity to awaken and instill entrepreneurial creativity to satisfy such a large, underserved market. I was witness to this ‘70’s expression of Black heritage during my high school years. It is now easier to see, in retrospect, their importance to the times, as the overall Black Movement unfolded.

    Chanell Stone’s (Emerging Artist Winner) “Natura Negra” exhibit used mylar overlays to create a collage, an unusual technique which obscures a portion of her black and white photo canvas. Reclaiming the natural urban environment to reconnect the Black body identity is her thought provoking message. The photos, “Natura Negra 1” and “Natura Negra 2”, intentionally blurs the background, evoking an integral, fading memory of a former place.

    MOAD has an impressive “A List” of corporate sponsors and donors, some of which includes: Dignity Health, Wells Fargo, Lennar Urban, AT & T, Union Bank, Target, United Airlines, Gensler, CSAA Insurance Group, Kaiser Permanente, Apple, Blackrock, Cisco, Gilead, Google, Salesforce, Verizon, and many more….WOW!!!

  8. This was my first visit to the MOAD, and also the first time I have visited a museum anything like it. I don’t generally tend to go to museums like this one because the description someone might give me for the MOAD wouldn’t grab my interest like a natural history museum would, for example. Which is why, like many of the museums in this class before it, I am glad I had the opportunity to visit. Many of the photographs were interesting and well put together, with a clear eye for layout and composition that I can only slightly understand. I showed up a little later since my previous class generally forces me to miss the beginning of this one, so I did not get to see as much as I would have liked, but what I did see was very interesting. I may not find the time to visit again, but I am glad that this class allowed me the opportunity to visit.

  9. Barbara Houghton
    Museum of the African Diaspora
    There is a song, ‘Saving the Best for Last’ and that is how I felt upon entering and leaving MoAD on Thursday. Upon entering the doors, it sent out good vibes to me. It was light and bright with color and very welcoming. The physical space of the museum is small but it has a feeling of power.
    I was impressed with the staff. They were all articulate and willing and eager to share with us their backgrounds and their positions in the museum and their goals plus the goals of the museum. Obviously, they were happy in their jobs, worked well and respected one another.
    Sedey Gebreyes, our docent, led us through the current exhibit, Black is Beautiful, photography by Kwame Braithwaite. His works are bold and beautiful. On the third floor I studied and reflected upon Chanall Stone’s photograph,’Brooklyn Lush 2019’. A teenager with a sullen look on her face is standing in the middle of a backyard. The ground is covered with fallen leaves and overgrown ivy. The enclosure has a wooden fence on one side and a cement block wall on the other side and the corner is piled with debris. To me it was a discouraging message as if she is boxed in. Her access to nature and the environment is limited as is her future. She looks perplexed.
    Definitely I will return many, many times to MoAD.

  10. Carol Goodman
    MOAD

    This morning I found a very pertinent new article about Museum Decolonization posted on the Atlantic Magazine’s website. It is by San Francisco resident, Adam Hochschild, founder of Mother Jones Magazine. Several years ago he wrote a book called “King Leopold’s Ghost,” which was a searing indictment of the ruthless colonization of the Congo by the Belgians. If you haven’t read this book, it is excellent and well worth reading.

    The article is called The Fight to Decolonize the Museum, and here is a link to it. It’s a good summary of the issues we’ve discussed in class.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/01/when-museums-have-ugly-pasts/603133/

    As someone whose reading is comprised mostly of history books, our class has reminded me just how contested the writing and telling of history is. So-called “victors” (or the powerful) generally control the narrative. And the writing of history is used for propagandistic purposes.

    The museum decolonization movement has certainly had many uphill battles, but has made noteworthy successes. That said, as the world seems to be taking a more rightist/ethno-nationalist turn, these battles are likely to become more pitched. And this all is taking place at a time when people seem to have less grounding or interest in history.

    History runs in cycles, and we learn from these cycles. Every time there is a significant leap forward by more people to share the economic pie, or political power (such as women, people of color, people with different sexual identifies)….there is a strong and aggressive backlash. We are in one of those times now.

    1. And now tonight (Sunday, December 15th), the New York Times has just posted an Op-Ed piece entitled “How the Super-Rich Took Over the Museum World.” It seems like everything we’ve been discussing in class is highly topical/au courant. Am not sure whether the article is accessible to non-NY Times subscribers or not.

  11. MoAD
    Claire Bobrow

    This was my first visit to MoAD. Our class time was not enough to fully explore the offerings and I can’t wait to go back. As with other non-collecting institutions like the CJM, it was interesting to see what MoAD had chosen to display. I really enjoyed the Kwame Braithwaite show and its celebration of the theme Black Is Beautiful. As a child growing up in the 60s and 70s, I saw images like this (maybe some of these very ones) but did not have the perspective to understand how ground-breaking they were. I loved the celebratory nature of this show and its powerful political message.

    The photographs in ‘Natura Negra’ by artist Chanell Stone were quite different in style from Kwame Braithwaite’s work but also very compelling. They grapple with the question of where Black people belong in relation to the ‘American landscape’ versus where stereotypical notions have placed them, i.e. in the blighted urban environment. My favorite photo was titled ‘Fruitvale, 2019’ and showed a central female figure standing on an urban sidewalk dominated by chain link fencing and garbage cans, contrasted with the lush foliage of a spreading fig tree overhead. The woman’s seductive stance and direct gaze made me think of Eve in the Garden of Eden, perhaps tempting us to challenge the notion that people ‘belong’ in any one particular place.

  12. Barbara Cabral
    MOAD

    The lobby feels welcoming with its open seating, ongoing video, wonderful array of books, crafts, jewelry, and African dresses from Nigeria. Sedey, a recent employee in the educational department was our docent.

    She walked us through the 3rd floor exhibition called Black is Beautiful, featuring the photographs of Kwame Braithwaite, which addresses the soulful Pan African movement of the 50’s and 60’s in Harlem. She described the overarching perspective of “nothing about us, for us, without us.” This exhibit has wonderful large size photos of Kwame, his key leaders in The African Jazz Art Society. The AJAS created special musical events to celebrate the community, the black musicians, singers, and artists. Many strategies were used to peruse the themes of “Think Black” and “Buy Black”. The Gradassa Fashion Models designed, created and forecasted the wonderful black fashion of the time. His wife and daughter were featured in the Black is Beautiful poster.

    On the second floor, She walked us through Chanelle Stone’s exhibition Natura Negra / Black Nature exploring the black body in the American landscape. That floors also included Don’t Shoot: An Opus of the Opulence of Blackness features the work of local artists and includes some participatory engagement opportunities–i.e. photo opportunity within an art installation. Yes, I enjoyed having Thomas and Vilde Anna join me in the “I AM” setting for a photo by Ann.

  13. Please Support Your CCSF Against Class Cuts

    Hi Everyone,
    As you may have already heard, over 200 credit and over 80 noncredit classes were suddenly cut from the CCSF schedule for the Spring, and the Summer schedule will be reduced by 25%. These cuts were made without any consultation with department chairs, faculty, or students. The areas most impacted are Art, Music, Dance, PE, Journalism, Culinary Arts, and the Older Adults Program.

    The cuts to these programs is disturbing in the manipulative way the chancellor is systematically gutting this school with total disrespect for the talented teachers who have dedicated themselves to building incredible curriculums and the students who count of the school as an affordable way to advance their learning and build brighter futures.

    There are several ways that you can speak out about these cuts and support your campus and right to a full education:

    1) Write a letter to the CCSF Chancellor, Board of Trustees, and your San Francisco Supervisor.
    (If you’re interested if a list with contact information please email me at beverlypatterson@yahoo.com). I can provide sample letters to get you started.

    2) Create an art piece to be included in the Fort Mason gallery mid December with other student protest art. Melissa San Miguel will be helping to organize this show, and you can contact her at melissa.san.miguel@gmail.com. Claire Brees, Art Faculty, will be working on getting publicity for this show online and with the press to bring attention to student voice around this issue.

    3) Participate in campus protests

    Best wishes & Happy Thanksgiving,
    Beverly

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