September 13, 2014

Question Bridge: Black Males
For the PDF version, click here

Question Bridge: Black Males

September 13–November 9, 2014

Public Reception: Thursday, October 2, 2014 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm

The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) presents Question Bridge: Black Males that opens on Saturday, September 13, 2014. FWM will host a public reception on Thursday, October 2, 2014 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Question Bridge aims to represent and redefine black male identity in America, and powerfully exposes the incredible diversity of thought, character, and identity within the black American male demographic, disrupting traditional generalizations.
This project created by Chris Johnson, Hank Willis Thomas, Bayeté Ross Smith, and Kamal Sinclair explores challenging issues within the black male community by instigating a transmedia conversation across the geographic, economic, generational, educational, and social divisions of American society. These artists collected more than 1,600 question and answer videos from over 150 men across the country between 2008-2011. The conversation that is created brings about healing and understanding among group members, but when it’s shared publicly, understanding happens on a broader scale: non-black viewers are exposed to complex and authentic images of black males rarely seen in American media. The hope is that this exposure will help break down the many negative perceptions people have about black men. Johnson, Thomas, Ross Smith, and Sinclair shaped the content into an insightful, provocative, and entertaining five-channel video installation that has been exhibited at over 30 museums, festivals, and institutions.
From the beginning, the goal of the project has been to represent and redefine black male identity by getting large numbers of black men to participate in the effort. So, starting in September 2014, Question Bridge will embark on a campaign of getting 200,000 black males to add their voices through the website and mobile app by summer 2016. This exhibition at FWM is joined by 7 other exhibitions appearing across the country in the fall of 2014.
Question Bridge: Black Males is a fiscally sponsored project of the Bay Area Video Coalition (a 501c3 not-for-profit organization) and supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Institute: Campaign for Black Male Achievement, The California Endowment, The Ford Foundation, The Tribeca Film Institute, the LEF Foundation, The Center for Cultural Innovation, Nathan Cummings Foundation and the California College of the Arts. The project was supported by the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Story Lab.
Artist Statement
This is a critical period in history for the African American community. In recent years, many have been able to transcend racial, cultural and economic boundaries while others have found themselves increasingly confined to the margins of society. African American men are particularly challenged by this paradox. A black man is the President of the United States, yet black men are still severely overrepresented in incarceration and high school dropout rates, and suffer disproportionately from various preventable health risks and as victims of homicide.
The representation and depiction of black males in popular culture has long been governed by prevailing stereotyped attitudes about race and sexuality. Far too little is known about the range of internal values and dynamics of this group. Scientists, social scientists, theorists, historians, politicians and activists have investigated the plight of the African American male on various levels and from diverse perspectives, yet not enough has been done to represent a multi-faceted and self-determined representation of this demographic. Ultimately Black males’ greatest challenges are with themselves. The question is, “why?”
Question Bridge: Black Males opens a window onto the complex and often unspoken dialogue among African American men, creating an intimate and essentially genuine experience for viewers and subjects and providing new opportunities for understanding and healing. This project brings the full spectrum of what it means to be “black” and “male” in America to the forefront. “Blackness” ceases to be a simple, monochromatic concept.
-- Chris Johnson, Hank Willis Thomas, Bayeté Ross Smith, and Kamal Sinclair
The Thursday, October 2nd reception will also celebrate the following exhibitions:
FWM, 1214 Arch Street, First Floor
Kazumi Tanaka: Mother and Child Reunion
Members-only Artist Talk by Kazumi Tanaka: Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 5:30 pm
On view:  Saturday, September 13—Sunday, November 9, 2014
FWM, 1214 Arch Street, Eighth Floor
Venturi, Scott Brown and Grandmother: Patterns for Production
Featuring work by the firm of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates
On view:  Saturday, September 13–Sunday, November 9, 2014
The New Temporary Contemporary, 1222 Arch Street
Joy Feasley and Paul Swenbeck: A Hatchet to Kill Old Ugly
On view: Thursday, October 2, 2014—Sunday, January 4, 2015
Please visit our website for upcoming public events for Question Bridge: Black Males and our other exhibitions on view.

About The Fabric Workshop and Museum
The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) is the only museum of its kind, offering internationally renowned artists the resources to create new work in experimental materials. Artists come from all media—including sculpture, installation, video, painting, ceramics, and architecture—and use FWM’s facilities and technical expertise to create works of art that they could not create on their own. Research, construction, and fabrication occur onsite in studios that are open to the public, providing visitors with the opportunity to see works of art from conception to completion. FWM’s permanent collections include not only complete works of art, but also material research, samples, prototypes, and photography and video of artists making and speaking about their work. Access to the creative process provides visitors with a point of entry into understanding challenging works of contemporary art. FWM offers an unparalleled experience to those young and old, including the most significant artists of our time, students, and the general public.
The programs of The Fabric Workshop and Museum are supported by Agnes Gund; Amy Stone, Art Ancora; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The Arcadia Foundation; The Barra Foundation; Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation; Claneil Foundation; The Coby Foundation; The Dedalus Foundation, Inc.; Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation; E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation; Edna W. Andrade Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation; The Honickman Foundation; Independence Foundation; Institute of Museum and Library Services; The Judith Rothschild Foundation; Knight Foundation; LEF Foundation; LLWW Foundation; Longwood Plantation Foundation, Inc.; Louis N. Cassett Foundation; Mondriaan Foundation; Museums ConnectSM made possible by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums; National Endowment for the Arts; New Millennium Charitable Foundation; The New York Community Trust; Nimoy Foundation; Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage; The Philadelphia Cultural Fund; PNC Foundation; PNC Arts Alive; Public Funds from the Netherlands Cultural Service; The Quaker Chemical Foundation; Samuel S. Fels Fund; Individual Trustee Discretionary Grant, of the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation; Uplands Family Foundation; and the Board of Directors and Members of The Fabric Workshop and Museum.
For more information, or to request images, please contact Michele Bregande, Assistant to the Directors, at, or 215.561.8888.