Panel Discussion: African American Leisure in the Sunshine State & Beyond with Derrick Adams
Join us for a special Zoom conversation featuring Contemporary Artist Derrick Adams; Dr. Gretchen Sorin, author of Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights; and Cynthia Wilson-Graham, co-author of Remembering Paradise Park: Tourism and Segregation in Silver Springs. The discussion will be moderated by MFA Curator of Contemporary Art Katherine Pill.
This panel discussion delves into the histories of African-American leisure and travel, and in complement to the special exhibition Derrick Adams: Buoyant, considers the importance, yet lack of, images of Black leisure in popular culture.
In Driving While Black, Dr. Gretchen Sorin reveals how the car―the ultimate symbol of independence and possibility―has always held particular importance for African-Americans, allowing families to evade the many dangers presented by an entrenched racist society and to enjoy, in some measure, the freedom of the open road. At the heart of Sorin’s story is Victor and Alma Green’s famous The Green Book, a travel guide begun in 1936, which helped grant Black Americans that most basic American rite, the family vacation. Dr. Sorin is a distinguished professor and director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program of the State University of New York. Based in upstate New York, Sorin has curated innumerable exhibitions, including with the Smithsonian, the Jewish Museum and the New York State Historical Association.
Cynthia Wilson-Graham is an educator, historian, and photographer whose advocacy was instrumental to the installation of a historical marker by the Bureau of Historic Preservation at the former entrance to Paradise Park, the segregated sister attraction to Silver Springs in Marion County, Florida. She is the co-author, along with historian Lu Vickers, of Remembering Paradise Park: Tourism and Segregation at Silver Springs.
Drawing on personal and broader Black histories, Derrick Adams examines the power of visual culture on one’s self-image, and questions, “What can I reveal that has not been shown?” In his Floaters series, he depicts exuberant images of Black joy and leisure, putting forth a more nuanced and comprehensive narrative of Black experiences. Adams earned his MFA from Columbia University, his BFA from Pratt Institute, and is a Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and Marie Walsh Sharpe alumnus. A recipient of numerous grants and awards, his artwork is in the permanent collections of public institutions, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Studio Museum, NY; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. (Derrick Adams photo above by Christopher Garcia)
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