Category Archives: Events

Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And

Lorraine O’Grady is a conceptual artist and cultural critic.  The exhibition, Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And, opening this week at the Brooklyn Museum, is the first retrospective of over four decades of work.  Her work often explores the ways in which hybridity has shaped the modern Western world.

In 1983, O’Grady invited 28 artists, 14 of whom were Black and 14 white, to participate in her exhibition and conceptual art piece, The Black and White Show, including Keith Haring.  The exhibition was a response to the intransigent segregation of the art world, and its purpose was to materialize equality.

The exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum highlights O’Grady’s long engagement with art historical omissions and institutional failings related to those excluded from the canon.

Learn more about the work of Lorraine O’Grady, and visit the exhibition Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And at the Brooklyn Museum, open March 5 through July 18, 2021.

Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde, 1980 Photo By K. Kendall

Audre Lorde, an American writer, feminist, librarian, and civil rights activist, was born on this day in 1934.  She was a self-described “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” who dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, capitalism, heterosexism, and homophobia.

On August 27, 1983, Audre Lorde spoke at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. “Today we march,” she said, “lesbians and gay men and our children, standing in our own names together with all our struggling sisters and brothers here and around the world, in the Middle East, in Central America, in the Caribbean and South Africa, sharing our commitment to work for a joint livable future. We know we do not have to become copies of each other to be able to work together. We know that when we join hands across the table of our difference, our diversity gives us great power. When we can arm ourselves with the strength and vision from all of our diverse communities, then we will in truth all be free at last.”

The Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, named after Michael Callen and Audre Lorde, is an organization based in New York City, dedicated to providing medical health care to the city’s LGBT population without regard to ability to pay. The Keith Haring Foundation is proud to support the work of Callen-Lorde and it’s Nurse Practitioner Postgraduate Fellowship in LGBTQ+ Health .

Audre Lorde died in 1992 at age 58 after a 14-year struggle with breast cancer.  Google is celebrating her life today, and we encourage all to learn more about the incredible work of Audre Lorde.

“I don’t believe anything dies. It all goes in circles.”

Keith Haring, Untitled, 1989

Keith Haring died on February 16, 1990.  In a discussion some time after Keith’s diagnosis with AIDS, Tullio Francesco DeSantis, an artist, writer, and friend of Keith Haring, asked Keith “Is there anything that doesn’t die?” to which Keith responded, “I don’t believe anything dies. It all goes in circles.”

Tullio recounts this conversation in his article, “Through art, Haring confronted death,” which appeared in the Eagle Times, February 1990, written on the occasion of Keith’s death.  You can read the full article below, which reveals a touching and intimate account of a human being confronting their mortality.

Keith Haring: Street Art Boy

American Masters –Keith Haring: Street Art Boy premieres nationwide beginning November 28 on PBS (check local listings) and streams Friday, December 4 at 9 p.m. on pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video app.

Between 1980-1990, Keith Haring established himself as an art world celebrity and pop culture icon with a distinctive and instantly recognizable style that came to define the decade. This new documentary film is the definitive story of the artist in his own words. Following Haring’s AIDS diagnosis, he told writer and art critic John Gruen the story of his life in intimate and candid detail in 1989 for his biography. These previously unheard interviews form the narrative of American Masters –Keith Haring: Street Art Boy.

Happy Birthday Keith!

Keith Haring would have been 62 years old today had he not succumbed to HIV/AIDS related complications in 1990.

Body Positive Cover
Photo by Kevin B. Smith

Keith was an activist as well as an artist, and frequently used his artwork to help draw attention to a variety of issues, including the call to end apartheid, nuclear-disarmament, and the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

In a statement in the magazine Flash Art in 1984, Keith wrote “I think the contemporary artist has a responsibility to humanity to continue celebrating humanity and opposing the dehumanization of our culture.”  His well-documented history of social activism shows his commitment to this belief.

Free South Africa rally
End Apartheid rally in Central Park, NYC, 1985.  Keith and friends distributing posters which he designed and printed.  Photo by Tseng Kwong Chi, 1985 © Muna Tseng Dance Projects Inc., New York
Anti-nuclear rally, Central Park, NYC, 1982. Keith and friends handing out posters which he designed and printed.  Photo by Joseph Szkodzinksi
AIDS mural Barcelona
Together We Can Stop AIDS, 1989, mural in Barcelona

The Chunk Called Poetry

April is National Poetry Month, launched by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996 to remind the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters.  Since then, it has become one of the largest literary celebrations in the world.

Keith Haring was deeply impacted by poetry, writing in his Journals in the Fall of 1979, “I have been enlightened.  I have fell into poetry and it has swallowed me up.”  You can read what Keith wrote about poetry in his Journals, which he titled, “The Chunk Called Poetry,” below.

To learn more about National Poetry Month, and how to become involved in the celebration of poetry, visit the website of the Academy of American Poets.

The Chunk Called Poetry

 

“All of this and my own life, too.”

Haring journals

“I’m trying as hard as I can to make some sense out of all this madness.  My life, my misguided love, my friends, suffering, pain, and little bursts of sanity.  It’s got to get better, I think, but it only seems to get worse.  How long can it go on?  And who am I to question it?  It’s not even a question of understanding anymore, but accepting.  I accept my fate, I accept my life.  I accept my shortcomings, I accept the struggle.  I accept my inability to understand.  I accept what I will never become and what I will never have.  I accept death and I accept life.  I have no profound realizations — it is blind acceptance and some kind of faith.   I am becoming numb to all of this, which is in a way even more frightening.  Nothing even surprises or shocks me anymore.  I am becoming very hard on the outside and even softer on the inside.  I have to get through this.  All of this and my own life, too.”

     –Keith Haring, Journals,  February 15, 1989

Keith Haring died from AIDS-related complications thirty years ago, on February 16, 1990.  Though struggling to make sense of the world he lived in, Keith continued to create until shortly before his death, using art as a way of maintaining hope.

One of the last works he created was a bronze altarpiece, cast in an edition of nine, one of which can be visited at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.

altarpiece
Keith Haring, Altar Piece, 1990

Dec 1, World AIDS Day

Once Upon a Time... mural
Once Upon a Time… 1989 © Keith Haring Foundation, Photo by Tseng Kwong Chi, 1989 © Muna Tseng Dance Projects, Inc., New York

In May of 1989, Keith painted his mural Once Upon a Time… in a bathroom at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (known colloquially as The Center) in New York City.

Keith viewed this mural as a memorial to the casualties of AIDS, and to the loss of a time when expression of sexual freedom could be experienced as a joyful celebration.  The mural still exists today, and the room is no longer a bathroom, but functions as a sanctuary and place of contemplation for many people impacted by the AIDS crisis.

The Center has been a home and resource hub for the LGBT community, NYC residents, and visitors since its founding in 1983.  It provides a place to connect and engage, find camaraderie and support, and celebrate the vibrancy and growth of the LGBT community.  The Center offers the LGBTQ communities of NYC advocacy, health and wellness programs; arts, entertainment and cultural events; recovery, parenthood and family support services.

To learn more about The Center, and how you can visit the mural, go to https://gaycenter.org

World AIDS Day, designated on December 1st every year since 1988, is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

Keith Haring painting Once Upon a Time...
Photo by Tseng Kwong Chi, 1989 © Muna Tseng Dance Projects, Inc., New York

Stonewall 50 and NYC Pride

Stonewall

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which began the morning of June 28, 1969, when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Christopher Street.  Among the working-class patrons who refused to be arrested quietly were the transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson and the gay artist Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt. The confrontation spilled out into the street in protests and violent clashes; the riots continued for days, marking a turning point in the fight for queer civil rights.

A number of  New York City institutions are hosting exhibitions about the Stonewall Uprising.  Art after Stonewall, 1969–1989, is an exhibition across two venues, the Grey Art Gallery and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian ArtStonewall 50 at the New-York Historical Society; and Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall at the Brooklyn Museum, to list just a few.  Learn more about the Uprising by visiting these and the many other organizations hosting exhibitions and events in NYC.

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, is New York City Pride Month, which culminates this weekend with the celebratory NYC Pride March this Sunday, June 30th, at Noon.  The Queer Liberation March, also on Sunday, steps off at 9:30 a.m., and seeks to be a more somber and inclusive march, casting a critical eye towards corporate pinkwashing.  To learn more about the Queer Liberation March, read its Why We March statement.  Both marches are free to attend and welcoming to all.

Happy Pride!

Happy Birthday, Keith!

Keith Haring 14 years old

Keith Haring would have been 61 years old today had he not succumbed to HIV/AIDS related complications in 1990.  He surely would have been hopeful and optimistic in light of recent findings that have led the media to proclaim the “end of AIDS is in sight.”  However, for many, access to medicine and healthcare remains a major hurdle in the fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

According to the World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “The right to health for all people means that everyone should have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without suffering financial hardship.  No one should get sick and die just because they are poor, or because they cannot access the health services they need.”

As we continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is critical that we understand that healthcare is a human right.