February 4 – April 3, 2022
Contemporary at Blue Star’s Art Learning Lab
Begun in February 2020 by Curator Asmaa Walton, the Black Art Library was created as a tool to educate people on the arts. Walton’s academic background in art education and personal interest in Black art drives the focus of the library and desire to help others discover more about Black art, as it has historically been lacking in art education.
The collection includes exhibition catalogues, children’s books, artist memoirs, artist biographies, art history texts, and other art-related ephemera that focuses on Black artists and Black art history. The collection is meant to be accessible for people at all levels of education to reduce the intimidation that many feel when entering art institutions and other art spaces, and there are items that would be of interest to art historians and individuals new to the arts alike. The Black Art Library was inspired by spaces such as The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and projects such as the Free Black Women’s Library, but exclusive to material focused on Black visual arts and the history that informs it. Contemporary at Blue Star is pleased to be the first arts organization outside of Michigan to host the Black Art Library. In the future, Walton plans for the Black Art Library to be a physical space that acts as a non-lending library based in Detroit.
Follow the Black Art Library @blackartlibrary
This project seeks to fill gaps in the access to visual arts education. I want to create a space where people of all ages can come to spend time with these books and learn things that they did not have the opportunity to learn in school or at home. I want the Black Art Library to be a place local students can come to do research for a project, self taught artists can be inspired by images that they see between the pages, and art lovers can spend a day falling in love with the work of an artist they had never even heard about before. This project is a labor of love that I want to share with the Black community and with my home, Detroit.
About the Curator
Asmaa Walton is a Detroit native, arts educator and ardent developer of the Black cultural archive. Walton completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education from Michigan State University in 2017. Upon earning a Master of Arts in Art Politics from New York University Tisch School of the Arts, in 2018, Walton joined Toledo Museum of Art as an Education and Engagement Intern. In the same year she was appointed the Museum’s first KeyBank Fellow in Diversity Leadership, a position where she identified opportunities for diversity and equity programming across museums and cultural institutions. In 2019, Walton was appointed Romare Bearden graduate Museum Fellow at Saint Louis Art Museum. In February 2020, Walton established Black Art Library which is a collection of publications, exhibition catalogues and theoretical texts about Black art and visual culture intended to become a public archive in a permanent space in Detroit.