SPMG MEDIA PEOPLE: Curator Denise Murrell

Denise Murrell is the curator of the successful exhibition Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet to Matisse and Beyond at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery, and co-curator of the exhibition’s expansion at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, as the Wallach’s first Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Research Scholar. She is the author of the New York exhibition catalogue, to be published by Yale University Press. Murrell is involved in initiatives to create greater diversity within the curatorial and academic professions of art history, and to develop exhibition programs that introduce overlooked narratives of interest to new and broader museum audiences.

The New York and Paris exhibitions are based on Murrell’s 2013 doctoral dissertation at Columbia, where she has taught the course Masterpieces of Western Art, and received a PhD in art history in February 2014.

Murrell was previously managing director of the Institutional Investor Research Group, Euromoney Institutional Investor Plc (1995-2005), as profiled in the HBS case “The 1995 Release of the Institutional Investor Research Report: The Impact of New Information” (Groysberg, Nohria and Haas: 2007). She held other positions in finance and consulting after receiving an MBA from HBS and a BS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including executive director of the Institutional Investor International Investment Forum; corporate finance and marketing positions at Citicorp Investment Bank in New York and London; and as an analyst at Morgan Stanley prior to HBS.

She currently serves on the National Advisory Board for the Ackland Art Museum at UNC Chapel Hill, where she is treasurer of the Select Committee; and was previously on the board of ArtsConnection, an organization providing arts programming to students in the New York City public school system. She is a member of the Association of Art Museum Curators, ArtTable (a leadership organization for professional women in the visual arts), the College Art Association, and the Museum of Modern Art Friends of Education. For several years while completing her PhD, Murrell was a pro bono strategic consultant for NYC arts nonprofits with Community Partners of the Harvard Business School Alumni Club.

Murrell’s publications and conference papers as an independent art historian (Project New Muse) include “Laure of Olympia and More: Manet and 19th Century Black Paris (2017); “The Anterior as Muse: Recent Paintings by Mickalene Thomas” (2012); “Resituating Identity in Yinka Shonibare’s Jardin d’Amour” (2010); and “African Influences in Modern Art” for the Metropolitan Museum Timeline of Art History (2008). She held a Mellon predoctoral fellowship at Princeton University Art Museum, was a contract lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a dissertation fellow at Columbia’s Reid Hall Paris.

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SPMG Media People Magazine



Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today & Le Modèle noir, de Géricault à Matisse

A recent New York City art exhibition, now at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, explores the importance of black models as key to the development of 19th and 20th-century art, through their representations by French and American artists (including Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Frederic Bazille and Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault). Nancy Giles talks with curator Denise Murrell about how the Harlem Renaissance influenced painters such as Henri Matisse, and with Brooklyn artist Mickalene Thomas about black figures in art at a time of social and political transformation.


About the Exhibition

This exhibition explores the changing modes of representation of the black figure as central to the development of modern art. The models’ interactions with and influences on painters, sculptors and photographers are highlighted through archival photographs, correspondence and films. The artists featured in the exhibition depicted black subjects in a manner counter to typical representations of the period. The works included highlight the little-known, multiracial aspect of each artist’s milieu.

In New York, the presentation focuses specifically on the black female figure, beginning with Edouard Manet’s 1860s portrayals of Laure, the model who posed as the maid in Olympia. In Paris, a broader and expanded treatment of the black figure begins with portaits by Marie-Guillemine Benoist and Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault at the start of the 19th century.

In both New York and Paris, the exhibition explores the work of Manet’s Impressionist-era cohort, including Frédéric Bazille, Edgar Degas and the photographer Nadar; sculptors including Charles Henri Joseph Cordier and Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux; paintings, drawings and prints of Henri Matisse (before and after his 1930s Harlem visits); the portraiture of diverse artists of the Harlem Renaissance, including Charles Alston and William H. Johnson; and the legacy of these depictions for successive generations of postwar modern and contemporary artists, from Romare Bearden through to the current moment.

By taking a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on the connection between the history of art and the history of ideas, the exhibition will study aesthetic, political, social and racial issues as well as the realm of the imagination—all of which is revealed in the representation of black figures in visual arts from the French and American abolition eras to the present day.

Denise Murrell


Serena and Venus may be tennis excellence personified, but don’t forget Richard

The sisters are the most accomplished sports siblings in history thanks in large part to the courage and fire of their father

Serena Williams was gathering her things to walk off the court after her 6-2 6-3 victory over Johanna Konta on Jan. 25 when Rennae Stubbs, who conducted the postmatch interview, said something to the crowd that just didn’t sound right.

“Ladies and gentlemen, world No. 2, Serena Williams.”

It was odd hearing the greatest to ever do it be referred to as second best. And one could infer from the manner in which Williams’ once toothy smile slowly evaporated that she wasn’t particularly fond of the characterization either. Nonetheless, since Angelique Kerber won the U.S. Open in September 2016, that had been the reality: Williams was not No. 1. The index finger she normally raised high in the air after a victory, a tad hollow.

It was in that moment that I knew she was going to win the Australian Open. Some people are masters at hiding how they really feel. Williams — like former first lady Michelle Obama — never struck me as someone who bothered playing that game.

Yet as the accolades continue to pour in celebrating her achievements as well as those of her ageless sister Venus Williams, there is one name that should not be forgotten.

Britain Wimbledon Tennis

Dove Joins Effort to Ban Discrimination Against Natural Black Hairstyles in the Workplace

Hair bias in the workplace is an issue that black people know too well. A recent study by Dove reveals that black women are 80% more likely to change their natural hair in order to meet social norms or expectations at work. On the other hand, many who don’t conform to Eurocentric standards are often penalized. According to the survey, black women are 50% more likely to be sent home from their jobs or know of a black woman who was sent home over their hair. Now, anti-hair-discrimination legislation is being championed by The CROWN Coalition, a national alliance comprised of Dove, the National Urban League, Color of Change, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

“Dove is proud to be a part of changing the narrative for black women and girls and anyone with textured hair, and we are excited to stand with The CROWN Coalition and Sen. Holly J. Mitchell to make a tangible impact in the state of California,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, EVP and COO of North America Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever, Dove’s parent company, in a press release.

Under the Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair (CROWN) Act, employers and school officials will be prohibited from enforcing grooming policies that restrict natural hairstyles, like cornrows, braids, and locs. “The CROWN Act is about inclusion, pride, and choice,” said State Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, the author of the bill, in a statement. “This law protects the right of black Californians to choose to wear their hair in its natural form, without pressure to conform to Eurocentric norms.”

Additionally, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law Wednesday making California the first state to ban discrimination against black students and employees over their natural hairstyles. During a press conference last week, Gov. Newsom said his consciousness about the stigmatization of black hair was raised last year when a black wrestler was forced to cut off his dreadlocks in order to participate in a high school wrestling match in New Jersey. Footage of a white woman cutting off the teen’s dreads went viral and sparked a firestorm of backlash. “His decision whether or not to lose an athletic competition or lose his identity came into, I think, stark terms for millions of Americans,” said Newsom. That type of discrimination “is played out in the workplace, it’s played out in schools.”

In February, the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued a ban on hair discrimination, granting legal recourse for victims of the practice.

The unique set of challenges that black women face in the workplace is well-documented. A 2016 study, titled the “Good Hair” Study: Explicit and Implicit Attitudes Toward Black Women’s Hair, found that most people, regardless of race and gender, have an implicit bias toward women of color based on their hair. White women, however, have the strongest bias—both explicit and implicit—against textured hair, rating it as less beautiful, less sexy or attractive, and less professional than smooth hair.


Karen Carter Richards, Publisher of the Houston Forward Times, Elected as New NNPA National Chair

Karen Carter Richards, the publisher of the Houston Forward Times, has been elected to serve as the chair of the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade organization that represents African American-owned newspapers and media companies throughout the country.

Richards, who in 2018 won the NNPA’s Publisher of the Year Award, succeeds Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the Chicago and Gary Crusader Newspapers.

“We did it!” Richards exclaimed, during an NNPA Legacy Awards presentation at the Cincinnati Westin Hotel on Friday, June 28.

The organization also selected a new first and second vice chair, secretary, treasurer and at-large board members.

The NNPA, which is celebrating its 79th year and 192 years of the Black Press in America, held its annual convention in the Queen City with Cincinnati Herald and Dayton Defender Publisher Jan Michele Kearney and Walter L. White, vice president of Sesh Communications hosting the weeklong event.

“I just want to thank my family for all of their support,” said Richards, a second-generation publisher who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in journalism.

Her father, Julius P. Carter, founded the Houston Forward Times in 1960 after recognizing a need for a newspaper that was committed to covering issues and personalities routinely ignored by mainstream media.

After Julius Carter’s death, the legendary Lenora “Doll” Carter assumed responsibility for the Forward Times with Karen Carter Richards working alongside her.

Richards said she understands that being the chair comes with a lot of responsibilities and work.

After a fierce campaign, Richards said she will work to move the storied association forward, help to continue to provide Black America with critical news and information, and bridge any divides that might exist between members.

“I will win your trust,” Richards said.

“This is a new vision and I’m excited about serving. We are the Black press, the Original Black Press and I’m so happy to serve and be the new chair of the NNPA.”

The Houston native said the importance of the Black press should never be lost on anyone.

“We are the voice, the true voice of our people. We have recorded our history for 192 years like no other media could ever do,” she said.

“We have recorded many stories … our celebrations, our injustices and those hidden, treasured stories that came from our communities that we have always found value in. Let’s do this.”


Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff, a 15-year-old Florida native, is the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon

American tennis prodigy Cori “Coco” Gauff, 15, just became the youngest player in the Open era to advance through qualifying to reach Wimbledon’s main draw where she will play compatriot Venus Williams.

The Delray Beach, Florida, resident, who’s been touted as the next Serena Williamstold an interviewer for Wimbledon, “I’m still in shock,” adding, “Playing against the top players in the field is going to be a different feel.”
When the Wimbledon draw was announced Friday, Gauff was handed a first-round match against 39-year-old Venus, a five-time champion at the All England Club.
Gauff, who was born on March 13, 2004, secured her spot at the fabled tennis championships with a win in the final qualifying round at Roehampton on Thursday.
Gauff will be the 12th youngest overall to play at the Wimbledon main draw, but the 11 others didn’t make it through qualifying.
Wimbledon says it also doles out wild card slots to players whose world ranking isn’t high enough to automatically qualify for the tournament, but who are noteworthy based on previous performances or their ability to “increase British interest.”
The last 15-year-old to compete through a wild card slot at Wimbledon was Laura Robson in 2009, a British player who’d won Junior Wimbledon the year before.
Gauff appeared on Wimbledon’s grass courts in the junior tournament last year, making it to the quarterfinals. “I’m a little bit familiar with the grounds,” she said.
Last year Gauff raised her profile by winning the French Open girl’s championship. This year, she became the youngest woman to win a Grand Slam qualifying match in the French Open.
In 2017, a then-13-year-old Gauff told CNN, “Overall, I want to be the best I can be and be the greatest,” after becoming the youngest player to appear in a US Open junior final. Her current 301st WTA singles ranking has climbed sharply from 874 eight months ago.
If Gauff were to win Wimbledon this year, she’d be the youngest ever. But another 15-year-old woman also won the championship more than a century ago.
Back in 1887, Charlotte “Lottie” Dod, at 15 years and 285 days old, set the record for the youngest woman to ever win a singles title at Wimbledon. But she only had to survive two rounds and four other women who entered the tournament that year.

Major Police Body Camera Manufacturer Rejects Facial Recognition Software

The largest manufacturer of police body cameras is rejecting the possibility of selling facial recognition technology – at least, for now.

Axon, formerly known as Taser International, has worked with more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies worldwide, selling a suite of products that include body cameras and software. It says 48 of 79 major city law enforcement agencies in North America are Axon customers.

On Thursday, the company announced that it is heeding the recommendation of an independent ethics board which it created last year after acquiring two artificial intelligence companies.

In a 42-page report, the ethics panel found that face recognition technology is not advanced enough for law enforcement to depend on — corroborating the worries of critics.

The board’s concerns ranged from “privacy costs to racial equity,” Barry Friedman, director of the Policing Project at New York University School of Law, told NPR.

The technology left certain groups vulnerable, Friedman said. It was less accurate in identifying the faces of women than men, and younger people compared to older ones. The same was true in people of color, who were harder to correctly identify than white people.

The board also cited privacy concerns which have long been raised by activists. “Even if face recognition works accurately and equitably—and we stress in detail that at present it does not—the technology makes it far easier for government entities to surveil citizens and potentially intrude into their lives,” the report said.

The board members included artificial intelligence experts, computer scientists, privacy advocates, police chiefs and other specialists. Despite their disparate backgrounds, Friedman said the conclusions the board reached were unanimous. (Each member received a small honorarium from Axon for their work, Friedman adds.)

He said he hoped Axon’s rebuff of face recognition software would set a precedent in the industry. “One of the most encouraging signs is that Axon heard us as we repeatedly expressed the view that their customer is not the law enforcement agency that purchases the equipment, but the community that agency serves,” he said.

Mike Wagers, Axon Vice President of Emerging Markets, tells NPR that the risks clearly outweighed the benefits. “We made the decision that just because you could deploy a certain technology does not make it right,” he said. “You think about how this could play itself out on the streets,” he added.

Concerns around face recognition technology have been mounting for years: There is the question of who should controlbody camera footage and whether it is meant as a tool to hold police accountable; there is the fear that law enforcement could target lawful protesters, violating their constitutional rights; there is also the possibility that the technology could lead to mass surveillance, as it has in China.

Jake Laperruque, senior counsel for a watchdog organization called the Project On Government Oversight, told NPR that Axon’s decision is a significant indication of how grave misidentification problems are in the arena of facial recognition.

“But we can’t expect the company to stick to this pledge or other vendors to follow suit — the only way to truly protect the public from unrestricted facial recognition surveillance is to pass laws properly limiting it,” he said.

Some places have already taken measures to ban face recognition software. Last month, San Francisco became the first city to ban the technology for law enforcement and government agencies. Similar measures are under consideration in Oakland and Massachusetts. Lawmakers in California are also considering a statewide ban on facial recognition programs.

But elsewhere in the United States, the technology is being pursued. Detroit reportedly signed a $1 million deal for software that let it continuously monitor “hundreds of private and public cameras set up around the city,” including gas stations, restaurants, churches and schools, according to the New York Times. Last year, Orlando police tested real-time recognition systems that it had ordered from Amazon — a discovery the ACLU made when an Amazon Rekognition executive described the city as a customer.

Axon CEO and founder Rick Smith did not rule out the possibility of facial recognition technology from being incorporated into body cameras when he spoke with NPR last year. He said it was “counterproductive to say that a technology is unethical and should never be developed. What we need to do is take a look at how this technology could evolve.”

Police officers could still pair their body cam or surveillance footage with Amazon Rekognition or other programs for facial recognition.

Axon told NPR on Thursday that democratic oversight is needed to guide how the technology will be used.

“We’re not moving ahead on commercializing facial recognition on body cameras until the board has had a chance to deliberate around the ethical framework,” Wager said.

Axon’s next meeting with the ethics board is scheduled for September.



‘That Little Girl Was Me’: Harris, Biden Clash Over Busing In Democratic Debate

Sen. Kamala Harris of California directly challenged former Vice President Joe Biden over his past opposition to federal busing policy, in a heated exchange on the second night of the first Democratic presidential primary debate.

This issue, from early in Biden’s lengthy career in Congress, has hung over his campaign for president, creating a clear target for challengers to his front-runner status.

Harris took aim at Biden during a discussion about race and policing. First, she called out Biden over comments he recently made about his “civil” working relationship with two segregationist lawmakers decades ago.

“It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country,” Harris said. “And it was not only that — you also worked with them to oppose busing.”

Harris then went on to describe the experience of “a little girl in California” who was bused as a part of the second class to integrate public schools in her county.

“And that little girl was me. So I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly,” Harris said.

Biden called Harris’ remarks “a mischaracterization of my position across the board.”

He said he did not praise segregationists, and he defended his record on civil rights.



2nd Night of Democratic Debates Highlights Divisions Over Race, Age and Ideology

Democratic divisions over race, age and ideology surged into public view in Thursday night’s presidential debate, a prime-time clash punctuated by a heated exchange between former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris.

It was one of several moments that left the 76-year-old Biden, who entered the night as his party’s fragile front-runner, on the defensive as he worked to convince voters across America that he’s still in touch with the Democratic Party of 2020 — and best-positioned to deny President Donald Trump a second term.

“I do not believe you are a racist,” Harris said to Biden, though she described his record of working with Democratic segregationist senators on non-race issues as “hurtful.”

Biden called Harris’ criticism “a complete mischaracterization of my record.” He declared, “I ran because of civil rights” and later accused the Trump administration of embracing racism.

The debate marked an abrupt turning point in a Democratic primary in which candidates have largely tiptoed around each other, focusing instead on their shared desire to beat Trump. But the debate revealed just how deep the fissures are within the Democratic Party eight months before primary voting begins.

Thursday’s debate, like the one a night earlier, gave millions of Americans their first peek inside the Democrats’ unruly 2020 season.

The showdown featured four of the five strongest candidates — according to early polls, at least. Those are Biden, Sanders, Pete Buttigieg of Indiana and Harris. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who debated Wednesday night, is the fifth.

There are so many candidates lining up to take on Trump that they do not all fit on one debate stage — or even two. Twenty Democrats debated on national television this week in two waves of 10, while a handful more were left out altogether.

The level of diversity on display was unprecedented for a major political party in the United States. The field features six women, two African Americans, one Asian American and two men under 40, one of them openly gay.

Yet in the early days of the campaign, two white septuagenarians are leading the polls: Biden and Vermont Sen. Sanders.

Thursday’s slate of candidates — and the debate itself — highlighted the unprecedented diversity of the Democratic Party’s 2020 class.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a 37-year-old gay former military officer, is four decades younger than Sanders, and has been framing his candidacy as a call for generational change in his party. Harris is the only African American woman to qualify for the presidential debate stage. Any of the three women featured Thursday night would be the first ever elected president.

Buttigieg faced tough questions about a racially charged recent police shooting in his city in which a white officer shot and killed a black man, Eric Logan.

Buttigieg said an investigation was underway, and he acknowledged the underlying racial tensions in his city and others. “It’s a mess,” he said plainly. “And we’re hurting.”

One of the lesser-known candidates on stage, California Rep Eric Swalwell, called on Buttigieg to fire his police chief, even though the investigation was only beginning.

Swalwell also took a swipe at Biden’s advanced age. Either Biden or Sanders would be the oldest president ever elected.

“Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago,” Swalwell jabbed.

Biden responded: “I’m still holding on to that torch.”

The party’s broader fight over ideology played a back seat at times to the racial and generational divisions. But calls to embrace dramatic change on immigration, health care and the environment were not forgotten.

Sanders slapped at his party’s centrist candidates, vowing to fight for “real change.”

Biden downplayed his establishment leanings. For example, the former vice president, along with the other candidates on stage, raised his hand to say his health care plan would provide coverage for immigrants in the country illegally.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper predicted that an aggressive lurch to the left on key policies would ultimately hurt Democrats’ quest to defeat Trump.

“If we don’t clearly define we are not socialists, the Republicans are going to come at us every way they can and call us socialists,” he warned.

Others on the stage Thursday night included Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Michael Bennet of Colorado, New York businessman Andrew Yang and author and social activist Marianne Williamson.

The showdown played out in Florida, a general election battleground that could well determine whether Trump wins a second term next year.

Biden sought to sidestep the intraparty divisions altogether, training his venom on Trump.

“Donald Trump thinks Wall Street built America. Ordinary middle-class Americans built America,” said the former vice president. He added: “Donald Trump has put us in a horrible situation. We do have enormous income inequality.”

Biden’s strategy is designed to highlight his status as the front-runner, and as such, the Democrat best positioned to take down the president at the ballot box. Above any policy disagreement, Democratic voters report that nothing matters more than finding a candidate who can beat Trump.

Their first round of debates is finished, but the real struggle is just beginning for most of the candidates.

All will work aggressively to leverage their debate performance and the related media attention to their advantage in the coming days. There is a real sense of urgency for more than a dozen candidates who fear they may not reach donor and polling thresholds to qualify for subsequent debates.

Should they fail to qualify, and many will fail, this week’s debates may have marked the high point for their personal presidential ambitions.

Source: KTLA


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