Black Lives Matter. Rainbow Flag. These are historic movements that continue to nudge and push every single soul who upholds freedom, women empowerment, gay rights, discrimination against violence and racism through Creative Activism. As ACIIID joins in the double celebration of two major events this month, we showcase a selection of 5 important icons, all proudly black and gay, representing the creative fields of fashion, jewelry design, photography, and visual arts—as we excitedly launch our staple Friday feature section FLASHBACKS. ACIIID invites you to take a dip and dive down your pool of memories.
WILLIAM DORSEY SWANN
William Dorsey Swann is recognized as the first ‘Queen of Drag’ after having actively fought for the gay rights and freedom a century ahead than the historic Stonewall event. It was in 1896 when Swann demanded (but was denied) pardon after having been convicted and sentenced in jail for the crime he has committed: hosting a drag ball.
AJAMU is a London-based photographer, curator, and activist, who in the year 2000 founded the rukus!Federation—known for its community-based programs involving national and international Black LGBTQ+ artists, activists, and cultural producers. His work follows the traditional socially engaged photography while it being respectful and sensitive to what his captured images genuinely are in order to give his subjects their rightful place in history.
Kehinde Wiley is a contemporary visual artist whose art is characterized by portrait painting tradition in his depiction and representation of urban, black and brown men from around the world. It was in the late 1980’s when Kehinde first got interested in painting after visits to big museums in Southern California while in art school—as he was growing up in the hip-hop culture-driven environment.
Zanele Muholi is an LGBTQ+ activist and portrait photographer who founded FEW (the Forum for the Empowerment of Women)—a black lesbian organization providing a safe space for women to meet and organize. In 2013, Zanele was awarded the Carnegie International Fine Prize for “Faces and Phases”—her series that transformed portraiture into a campaign to fight discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ communities.
(source: queerbio.com, huffpost.com)
Art Smith was an Afro-Carribean-American icon in post-modern jewelry design among New York’s artistic elite. His roster of clients included Eleanor Roosevelt, Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, and Vogue Magazine after settling and setting-up shop in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan in the late 1940’s.