In celebration of Black History Month, we’ve compiled a list of musical, dance, and theatrical performances, art exhibitions, and films that showcase the work of black artistry. This list is non- exhaustive, and simply presents a brief sampling of ways to participate in and experience Black History Month through art. If you are looking for ways to celebrate, pay tribute, or experience the contributions of influential black artists, look no further. Here are a few events throughout the eastern and southern regions of the United States.
Black Fashion Designers
Fashion & Textile History Gallery
Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NY
December 6–May 16
In the fashion industry, as in most industries, people of color have too often gone unacknowledged throughout history. FIT’s exhibition features the work of Black designers from 1950 onward, and draws from a multiplicity of categories and themes within the permanent collection of The Museum at FIT.
Studio BE, New Orleans, Louisiana
Open through May 2017
Brandon Odums, a visual artist and filmmaker who goes by Bmike, has temporarily transformed a 30,000 square foot warehouse in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans into an art space. Much of his work is inspired by his own heritage and the individuals he feels most connected to, particularly that of Martin Luther King Jr. Exhibited in the space is “Ephemeral Eternal,” Bmike’s first solo show, which mainly features large-scale spray paint works.
Black History Month Programs at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta
January 17–February 28
The Children’s Museum of Atlanta is proudly hosting a series of programs honoring Black Americans’ contributions to science, technology and the arts. The events include a mini musical, a music and movement class, an art studio and a science show.
Collection Tour of African American Artists
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
February 11, February 19
Graduate student lecturer Laura Heath-Stout will present a gallery talk exploring the representation of African American and Afro-Latino people in the work featured in the American Wing and the Contemporary Art collections.
I Am Not Your Negro
Released February 3
Raoul Peck’s documentary, based on an unfinished manuscript written by Writer, James Baldwin, delves into Baldwin’s observation of racism in the United States through the narratives of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers.
Released December 25
Fences tells the story of Troy Maxson, who once played in the professional Negro Leagues, and never made it to Major League Baseball once they began recruiting Black players after his prime. Discouraged by his inability to fulfill his own dreams, he becomes dismissive of his estranged son’s aspirations of playing in the NFL. The film tells the story of the ex-athlete’s complex relationship and tension with his wife and son, and their eventual forgiveness of Troy.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Based in New York, NY
Performances throughout the month of February in various locations nationwide
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, founded in 1958, started out as a small group of young African-American dancers. Their mission statement asserts, “The performing arts community plays a crucial social role, using the beauty and humanity of the African-American heritage and other cultures to unite people of all races, ages and backgrounds.” The company will be performing almost every day in February in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, GA, Overland Park, Kansas, and various locations in Florida.
“Wrestling With Freedom”
Hibernian Hall, Roxbury, MA
February 17–February 26
Playwright Jacqui Parker’s three one-act plays highlight the state of Black America through different time periods, beginning with the 18th century and concluding in the year 2020 with the onset of a civil war. Each act tells a story of measures one takes to let our voices be heard in times of social unrest.
Breaking Thru: A Celebration of Queer Black Women
The Strand Theatre, Boston, MA
The evening will feature spoken word, poetry, music and more, and seeks to underline the contributions of queer Black female artists to the city of Boston.
A Celebration of Black Composers and Chamber Music Performed by Pershing’s Own
The National Museum of African American History and Culture
The Nations Museum of African American History and Culture hosts a free musical performance by U.S. Army Band, Pershing’s Own. This performance will feature works by African American classical music composers including H. Leslie Adams, Valerie Coleman, and David Sanford to name a few.