Kim Drew and Black Contemporary Art

August 5, 2013

Kim Drew recalls her boredom in a modern art class in college. “I sat there looking at slide after slide of Anglo artists,” she tells me. Disappointed by the lack of artists of color in the curriculum, in March of 2011 she created Black Contemporary Art.

By: Justin Allen, AFROPUNK Contributor

Started as a Tumblr, Drew has accumulated thousands of followers and like’s across social media platforms for her unique method of archiving the work of artists of the African Diaspora. She and her fellow moderators manage a Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram to accompany the Tumblr page, and RAGE: A Black Contemporary Art Happening recently drew a crowd to a small gallery in the Lower East Side.

One day in Drew’s art class a Romare Bearden work flashed on the screen. “I yelped. It was really embarrassing,” she says. “I’ve been trying to recreate that feeling for others ever since.”

What draws you to art, specifically work by Black artists?

I was raised in a family that loves the arts. My aunt has worked within the Newark art scene for decades and most family gatherings include a trip to a museum. My interest in Black artists stems from my interest in Blackness. Studying art can be a very daunting task for the Black scholar. You’re taught to apotheosize certain artists and worship their work in a vacuum. You learn about Pablo Picasso, not Wifredo Lam. You learn about Andy Warhol, not Jean-Michel Basquiat. You learn about Marcel DuChamp, not Adam Pendleton. I’m committed to finding Black artists, supporting them as best I can and making sure that everyone has access to their work.


Are there many other blogs that cater to art by Black artists? What makes Black Contemporary Art unique?

When I started the Tumblr a few years ago I couldn’t find a single blog that looked like what I needed. I’m your quintessential millennial. If I can’t find something on the internet I enter crisis mode. Nowadays there are a lot more blogs that cater to the Diaspora: Mambu Badu, Contemporary And, Black Artists News, AADAT and Gifted Young and Black, to name a few. I think BCA is unique because we’re not a blog. When I started BCA I chose not to post any text under images. The art world is so interested in words and that shit is so tired. I want the works to speak for themselves. The blogs I listed above are blogs that do some great work. I like to think of BCA as more of an archive.


Adam Pendleton, independance (mask), 2013


How do you think social media has shifted the relationship between art and its audience, and how do you see this relationship continuing to evolve in the future?

Blogs, apps and social networks put museums in your pocket. I’m very interested in finding more hardcore statistics that show how these technologies have affected museum attendance. Moreover, art is in vogue and I think the internet has helped to seal its cool factor. I hope that this relationship will help diversify the art audience. I’m tired of the only brown faces being on the guards.


Given that viewing art online differs from experiencing it in person, how does BCA function in relation to the physical places in which art is viewed?

There is nothing like seeing art in person. Absolutely nothing compares. I see art online as a call to action.


RAGE: A Black Contemporary Art Happening from Adam Khalil on Vimeo.


BCA recently packed Hundred Forsyth in the Lower East Side with its first happening featuring Chris Udemezue and Juliana HuxtableWhat drew you to these two artists?

Shout out to the boos! Juliana reached out to me during THE WHOLE HOUSE EATS at CultureFix earlier this year. I’ve loved Juliana’s Tumblr forever, so it was such an honor. I met Chris at the opening at CultureFix, and after some small talk we knew we had to work together.


What made you want to break from blogging into hosting an event? Any more to come?

BCA is so much bigger than our moderators. It’s a community of 150,000 art appreciators. I want to do programming that will unite this community. Also, I never take a break from the internet


Join the community. Like Black Contemporary Art on Facebook and follow them on TwitterInstagram and, of course, Tumblr.