Dr. Cherise Smith is a professor of art history specializing in American art after 1945, especially as it intersects with the politics of identity, race, and gender. She is the Chair of the Department of African & African Diaspora Studies and is the founding Executive Director of the Art Galleries at Black Studies, which consist of the Christian-Green Gallery and IdeaLab. Cherise previously directed the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and co-directed the Op-Ed Project. Her recent book, Michael Ray Charles: A Retrospective (University of Texas Press, 2020), surveys Charles’ career, exploring the artist’s “sampling” approach to provocative anti-black stereotypes, as well as his analysis of African American masculinity and sports culture.
- Cherise SmithAssociate Professor of American Art at the University of Texas at Austin
- Peniel JosephFounding Director of the LBJ School’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas at Austin
[0:00:07 Peniel] Welcome to Race and Democracy, a podcast on the intersection between race, democracy, public policy, social justice and citizenship.
[0:00:21 Peniel] Welcome to Race and Democracy. On today’s podcast, we are pleased to have a conversation with Professor Cherise Smith, who is chair and assessor of African and African Diaspora Studies and executive director of the Galleries and Black Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Doc Smith is the author of Enacting Others Politics of Identity and ELEANOR Antin, Nikki Lee, Adrian Piper and Anna Deavere Smith and her new book, which is Michael Ray Charles, which is really a beautiful book. This is an awesome book about really one of the first artist African-American artists of our time. Shari’s Welcome to Race and Democracy.
[0:01:05 Cherise] Thank you, Peniel. It’s a pleasure to be here.
[0:01:08 Peniel] So I want to talk about Michael Ray Charles and his work and how subversive the work is. How provocative the work is. It’s really through your book that I’ve really gotten a deeper understanding of Michael Ray Charles, his significance as a black artist and the way in which his work is sort of very provocative. But at the same time, subversive. And it’s a themes of minstrelsy, themes of African-Americans as subhuman, themes of us as being stereotypical and caricatures. And really, these are some of the he he subverts images that have been used to justify lynching, used to justify racial slavery, used to justify eugenics and scientific racism. And some of that controversy that he causes that is connected to the fact that some people think that when we when we do these images, we’re perpetuating racial stereotypes and not subverting. So I’d love to talk about that.
[0:02:11 Cherise] Yes. So it’s absolutely true that his work is deeply challenging, especially in the 1990s. It challenged older generations of artists like Betty ser-, for example, and Howard Dean of Pindell. Those are artists who have, in the last five years, come on really strong in their own right, even though they had it at times as well on both of them have had major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, for example, L.A. County Museum of Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. But those same artists, the artists who were kind of the age of the parents of Michael Ray Charles, had a real problem with his work, as did the larger African-American community. I think now it is more accepted and part of the canon. But what this book does is to historic sites that work from the nineteen nineties and some of the big kind of cultural touchstones that were happening in the 1990s and also to situate his current work in the art world that’s happening now. I think what has happened with Michael Ray’s work is that people really think about that kind of touchstone. Touchstone late 1990s when he was in the middle of a censorship campaign. He and Karen Walker and they they don’t think about the larger impact and footprint tend to work away.
[0:03:48 Peniel] I want you to dove deeper into some of these touchstones of the 90s, because you talk about Spike Lee here. You talk about Bamboozled. But when he’s coming out, we talk about the 90s. It’s an era of sort of the L.A. rebellions of 92 of Clintonism. You know, The Cosby Show, it’s a different era in terms of blackness and black identity. Why is his work so provocative in the context of the 90s?
[0:04:17 Cherise] Yeah. So you mentioned a couple of really key moments. So it is coming on the heels of the culture wars that happened in the late 1990s that are in some ways spurred by the rise of the pandemic that was that HIV and AIDS crisis. And so there’s also this turn toward what has been called identity politics. When you see that particular groups and by particular, I mean African-Americans led to next folks, queer people are beginning to advocate for themselves using their own identity traits. So that’s a big thing that happens in the early to mid 1990s. There are several really big kind of cultural historic moments. He mentioned the L.A. riots. There is also the Crown Heights riots that happened in New York City. And there were major instances of police violence that galvanized the entire country. Think about it. Yusef Hawkins, for example. And so, you know, we might think about it as a kinder, gentler time. It was not. It was just as kind of corrosive. And a lot happening then.
[0:05:47 Peniel] And what what what does Michael Ray Charles. You use these kind of imagery. So they’re not necessarily an imagery of you think about Spike Lee. And do the right thing, sort of this black power imagery, even though Lee is certainly going to converge with him and bamboozled. Yeah, but but which is about two thousand. But when we think about why is he using these images? In fact, the cover of your book, obviously, you know, your book has the you know, the watermelon and the very. Yeah. Know this is very provocative. And, you know, there’s an image of a black face there and watermelons and black people have always been used to castigate the black. So why is he going this route?
[0:06:28 Cherise] Yeah. So I mean, there are a couple of big things that happened. The first is that he’s in graduate school at the University of Houston, the early part of the 1990s. And one of his classmates who happens to be white gives him a kind of plastic, for lack of a better word, Sambo figure. And at first, Michael Ray just described throwing it off into the corner and not really paying attention to it. But then he somehow happens across it again and he’s like, what is this thing and who is this supposed to represent? This doesn’t look like any of the actual black people that I know. And that becomes the kind of real crux of his work for the rest of his career. So essentially, he becomes interested in. OK. This is supposed to represent a black person, but it doesn’t look like black people at all. Instead, it looks like, you know, this, you know, weird plastic thing that the skin is black, not the actual color of the skin of people of African descent. It’s got big red lips that are kind of falling apart because it’s an old plastic thing. And he says, well, nobody I know has lips this color or, you know, that are in this proportion on anyone’s face. And so he uses this piece of of racial violence against black people, something that was made to keep us in our place, to then kind of think through. OK, well, so this is what they think of us. Is this, also what we think of ourselves? No. And he’s clear about that. But he also thinks will look in some ways we all kind of participate in creating these problematic images, whether we’re making them ourselves as they’re kind of manufactured in factories. For example, kids are all kind of mass produced more. We’re thinking about TV shows where people are playing kind of foolish stereotypes. And so what he becomes interested in is how in some ways we’re all tussling with creating dismantling stereotypes.
[0:08:52 Peniel] Let me stop you right there. What you is. Why was there so much pushback, especially in the 90s, against that? Because I see the point that you’re saying and even reading your essay and seeing the work, I see how it’s subversive. Yeah. Why was there so much pushback?
[0:09:10 Cherise] Well, so just a little bit more history. So in the early 1990s, he starts using this work and then he begins to collect what is sometimes called contemptible collectibles. You know, black memorabilia, Americana, however you want to talk about it or describe it. So he is using this work really kind of without incident for a couple of years. But then he really begins to get traction in the art world. And white collectors begin to buy the art. And some black collectors are as well. And people are really like, well, why is he able to sell this challenging imagery? So that’s really where the kind of crux is in the beginning. And so, you know, people who grew up with it find that really hurtful. And they don’t feel like it should be continue to be circulated. And so that’s one of the main reasons why he gets the pushback that he does.
[0:10:08 Peniel] But what is his answer to that? What does Michael Ray Charles is? What is his response to look black community saying whether they’re elities or people who are working class saying this is really hurtful. We should. Our children have to respond to this, especially as we get to the late 20th century or even now the 21st century. What is this? What is his response to?
[0:10:29 Cherise] He typically takes the response of the historian. And you know what historians think and that is let us collect this and let us study it rather than putting it in some storage facility and never thinking about it again. He wants people to be able to deconstruct it, to critique it, to tear it apart, to understand, look, this is not us. I don’t think this is us. And so one of the interesting things that happens is that he begins to collect this material at the same time that Oprah is collecting black memorabilia. Spike Lee begins to collect black memorabilia. Skip Gates begins to collect the black memorabilia. Right. So it’s in the early 1990s when it’s affordable and there’s a whole market that is created around elevating black memorabilia and putting it in as separate in a different framework. And it had been previously where previously it was just, oh, we don’t want to see that. Instead, we had middle and upper class black people who are saying, you know, okay, yeah, you know, it’s a problem. But I also think it’s endearing and I think it’s challenging and. And so people began to collect it. And so he’s one of the people like the cases and unlike the rest of the world, who began to collect it.
[0:11:56 Peniel] So I want you to situate Michael Ray Charles, as you have the in here, the the the watermelon man. You know, very famous like situate him among both his generational peers. And now how is he regarded? Because I want to talk about sort of art in the 21st century as well. You wait him. You know, you talk about Carol Walker. Carrie, we may Weems. You talk about these different, very, very important black artists and situate him within that context. And where does he fit in and why is this? Now, he’s a bone prizewinner. He’s certainly this, well, well-regarded black art artist. And when you think about the 21st century recently, The New York Times has had, you know, The Times Sunday Times magazine last week had all these placards. I’ve never seen such a renaissance of of of black of black artists being recognized in their own time. So where does he fit in into into all of this?
[0:12:59 Cherise] Yeah. So there are kind of three questions that you ask. Let me start with that kind of historic line. The first is that there are the many stars of the world. The Jeff Donaldson two way back in the 60s and 70s are using these same stereotypes to a much more kind of black power oriented way to combat stereotypes head on. OK, so that’s a kind of older generation. But then in the late 1980s, early 1990s, you see artists like Kerry Weems, Carole Walker, Fred Wilson, Rene Cox, who were doing much more conceptually oriented work where they’re trying to think, OK, is this person really is this thing really a person? No, they’re not. And so they’re playing with the difference between what the stereotype is and what it looks like versus what a real black person is. And so Michael Ray kind of fits in that larger conceptual art framework of artists who are, you know, kind of in there now in their 50s and 60s and who have made it. And then, you know, within the 21st century, these remain issues that artists continue to deal with and different ways, shapes and forms. You know, Michael Ray doesn’t deal with it the same way he used to. Kara Walker doesn’t carry me. Weems doesn’t. But they remain issues that people think through, you know, issues like archetype. So maybe the word stereotype that’s not as prevalent in the art world as it was once, but something like archetype where you’re thinking about a character that has a story that’s associated with it. And these are big issues that people continue to think through. If you think of someone like Michaeleen Thomas, who is some sometimes using very dark, shiny black pigments or materials to display the skin of black women, that’s thinking through standards of beauty as they relate to whiteness and blackness. And the stereotypes that are associated with them, for example. So there are lots of artists that. Still dealing with these issues.
[0:15:21 Peniel] I want to ask you and then talk about the current context, but when I think about the commodification of black art, especially over the last two decades and especially now over the last, say five, 10 years with Kuhnhenn de Riley and just different artists who are allowed to do portraiture, but some who do conceptual and abstract, but who’ve been allowed to do portraits of the president, United States, first lady of the United States. When we think about The New Yorker, which never had black artists doing covers, having black artists do dozens of covers one. Why do you think that’s happening, especially post the black power movement of the 60s and 70s and even post sort of the Basquiat moment of the 1980s and maybe early or early 90s? Why do you think there’s such a sort of almost an institutionalization of at least a certain strata of black artists? What? Why?
[0:16:18 Cherise] I mean, I feel like it’s a number of things. First off, artists have been black artists have been doing this work for a long time. And they are you know, now there’s history and people doing it. So there’s that there are people like the Lowery, Stokes, Sims, like Thelma Goldens of the world, like Kelly Jones of the world, who have integrated that kind of highest echelons of the art world by being directors of museums, by being full professors. And they have real authority to push agendas and those larger cultural world and not just the art world. And then the other thing that’s been happening is that more and more artists are getting art school trains now by art school. I also want to include like film school in there. And so there is a way in which people are just kind of integrating out with their graduate degrees and with their experiences and with their connections out into the larger cultural context. Now, I think all of this wouldn’t have happened if people were not making great art. And in fact, people are. And so that’s also
[0:17:35 Peniel] Are there are there are cultural other cultural touchstones. And I’m and I’m thinking here both sometimes on racial violence when I think about Hurricane Katrina, but sometimes really racial optimism when I think about Barack and Michelle Obama, you know, or Trayvon Martin or Black Lives Matter, is it social media and sort of black Twitter and black Instagram? Because certainly we have a whole group of artists, including African-American artists in Austin who have high profiles now thanks to thanks to Instagram. And there their were works or even really being collected by white and black. I collect as well. So is there a specific touchstone where we’re sort of like black is in almost in a way that it never has been before because it’s so institutionalized?
[00:18:25 Cherise] Yes. So I I think I’ve now been in our history for long enough to know that it’s cyclical. I hope that the moment that we’re in has a really long longevity, that it’s true and consistent from here on out. I’m skeptical of that. And I would venture to guess that other people are skeptical of it as well. And I guess I say that because, you know, what you’ve also seen is. An increase in the prices of artworks by black artists, both on the primary market where galleries sell it, or on the secondary market where they’re being sold at auction, for example. And so. You know, we’re about to. Well, we are already in a very challenging time financially. And who knows how long that kind of bull market where the collecting of black artists will continue.
[0:19:30 Peniel] And I want to I want to insert there. When you think about it, I wanted to talk about black art in the context of covered 19 in this current pandemic, this crisis that’s happening when you think about especially black artists who are not a Michael Ray Charles, who are just struggling. They might have gone to art school or, like you said, film school or some kind of. But but they’re there. They’re trying to just find their voices one. What’s going to happen to them in this sense? And we have a group of them in Austin, of course. And when we think about the future of black art and even appreciation for people like Ray Charles and the artists who study, do you think there’s gonna be a pre covered 19 and a post covered 19 because things are right now are transforming. Twenty six million people out of work. Certainly. I would probably think because of of what I study, that black artists suffer disproportionately during these time periods because we tend to suffer disproportionately in the context of crisis. So so what do you think about art moving forward? Black art, black artists. And like you said, this bull market post 2020.
[0:20:46 Cherise] Well, I mean, that’s the million dollar question. And I have been around long enough now like you to see both as a historian and as a person, that we do tend to suffer more from events like this. And so I worry that artists in the black community and in other kind of minorities communities are going to suffer as a result of this now across the board. Artists are going to because, you know, for every Kara Walker. Michael Ray Charles, who is a professor. And, you know, as gallery representation and is doing well, there are probably thousands more artists just like them who do not have the same security because of their position. Naledi, they are not professors. They don’t have galleries. They’ve not been. They’ve not had books written about them in articles written about them. They’re not making living, making their art. And so it’s gonna be a really tough time for all artists. And that’s evidenced by the fact that I was just watching PBS last night. There was an article specifically or, you know, a kind of section specifically about how artists are making their way right now. And artists have always participated in a gig economy before it was even called the gig economy. And, you know, they were teaching people how to paint. They might have been painting houses. They might have been painting signs for stores in addition to making their own art that they might sell to neighbors or in galleries. And so, you know, and then kind of knock on problem with that is because they’re not regular work in a corporate environment, then they don’t have the same access to things like what’s the word services like unemployment, because they have exactly the same kind of documentation that other kinds of workers do. And so it’s it’s going to be a challenge.
[0:23:04 Peniel] I want to get back to for a second. Commodification because so–yeah motion was supposed to be showing in Houston. I’ve taught the black power class and yeah, about museums and black power-
[0:23:17 Cherise] So shot out the soul of the nation was supposed to be and will be soon at the Museum of Fine Art Houston. It was at the Brooklyn Museum. It was at the Grove in Los Angeles. Ok, yeah.
[0:23:30 Peniel] And the tension that places like The New York Times that played to pay at the Astor Gates and these different I mean, easily, it’s the most striking thing I’ve ever seen where there’s literally dozens of black artists and featuring predominately black women and men. So, you know, when you think about the 1960s, the Black Power movement was a very ominous moment where there’s room for black black women. What? What? I mean, why that commodification? How is that commodification connected to universities thinking about D-I, diversity, equity and inclusion? Art collectors thinking about that. And that’s a long road. And I know black women and men protested in the 60s that. And throughout to make those things happen, and you mentioned Thelma Golden and all these important figures. But I still. Why? Why do we see something like Soul of a Nation, which I think is fabulous, but it’s almost like a dream seeing that somebody who grew up with that. It’s almost like when somebody sees a comic book become a movie and you’re like, wow, I can’t believe so many people are watching this. Like, what what explains that? Is that something I’m thinking, Michael, Ray Charles here? Is that something where we should feel optimistic in the sense of like, wow, look at all this attention that we’re getting from white people, but from just, you know, everyone you know? Yeah, they’re like, we’re serious artists. We are serious artists.
[0:24:53 Cherise] Yeah. So that’s an interesting question and a big question in some way. So I entered the museum profession early 1990s when I was starting my master’s degree. And at that point there was a real interest, as there is now in diversifying museums. They recognized back in the early 1990s, oh, we don’t have enough staff, we don’t have enough representation on the walls of people of color or women for that matter. And so there was a big push to do fellowships, which I was a beneficiary of. To introduce people into the museum world and have us stay inside museums. And some of us did and some of us went on to do our p._h._d. Many of us did that. And we’re still in art history. And that’s my generation and even a little bit older. And so on the one hand, when we, you know, middle aged folks, I will call myself middle career folks. I will call myself when we look at this, oh, there’s not enough diversity in the museums. And look at everything that museums are doing to integrate museums. It’s a little bit of a slap in the face because that’s what they said about us 20 something years ago. And so and it’s work that we’ve continued to do all that time, just like our elders did before we came along.
[0:26:26 Peniel] So it’s hard to push the needle, right. Cherise?
[0:26:28 Cherise] It really is. It really is hard to push the needle. And and for a couple of reasons. And I want us to get back to Soul of the Nation, because I want to ask you about it. But I think one of the problems is that the art world is this very silent and very insidious kind of bastion of whiteness and of white supremacy. And it’s it kind of flies in the face of everything that you think about the art world because you think of it as liberal. And it is. And you think of it as progressive. And it is. Except that it was started to study Renaissance art, Greek art, Roman art. And that has been the kind of pinnacle of what art history is thought to be. And so what that means is the rest of us, women, people of color, we are not. You know, part of the standard. And so it’s. It continues to be this push to make inroads into museums or staff are concerned where collecting is concerned. And even the kind the places in museums where you see black people, are they in the curatorial departments? Not so much. Are they in security? Yes. Are they in the Education Department as teachers? Yes. More often than not. And so, you know, there’s there continues to be a kind of stratification in types of jobs that people within people of color, within museums can actually have. Now, the flip side of this, and I think this is something that you’ll also be interested in in thinking through, is then how do black people actually how do and do they actually value art by black people? And do they actually consider it integral to our movements for social justice.
[0:28:33 Peniel] Which I guess what I want. I want to I want to ask you. Higher education, black studies. As far as I’m concerned, the two leading black studies departments and universities in the world are U.T., Austin and Harvard. And both have fabulous art museums and art institutions. Right. In the United States, two leading one. Why is it so important that we study black art? And pedagogically are students that they see that they’re connected in terms of when we think about art and democracy? Because a lot of times people talk about art and democracy, but not black art and democracy. So so in a way, I think about the I’m taking it, you know, a Aaron Douglas building more stately mansions. You know, obviously, Jacob Lawrence just so many different, you know, black artists over over the years and decades and centuries. But why people who might not know about the intricacies of black studies and higher education would be very surprised that UT not only has a department, but they have the galleries and they have you know, you bring all that with the galleries. The art would be very surprising. Why is this so important?
[0:29:44 Cherise] Yeah. I mean, I would agree with you. I think that we at UT are up there with the Harvards of the world and certainly in terms of our vision and the scope with which we practice black studies. And, you know, having been a fellow at the Dubois Institute back in the day, I know very firsthand how committed to our Skip Gates is committed to it as a collector, committed to it as a scholar, committed to it as someone who just has a basic interest in it and has written about it for years. So, you know, he is not an art historian, but he is a kind of honorary art historian. And he’s certainly pushed and pushed art history for the better. And, you know, it’s interesting to think through how he’s done that. Partially, it has been through recognizing that you have to have black art historians to actually teach it. Now, Sarah Lewis is there. Cheryl Finley has been there. Deborah Willis, Gwendolyn Dubois, Shaw. So there’s been a long line of art historians who have been at Harvard teaching people and then the creation of the galleries there at the Cooper Museum. It is just a really important thing that he saw needed to happen as integral to black studies. So we here at NUTI have had similar thoughts and similar goals. So, you know, the Center for African and African-American Studies here was started in 1969, partnering with Mexican-American studies split off a couple of years after that in the early 1970s. And then it’s in the kind of early 2000s that the idea to departmentally is really kind of grabs hold at University of Texas. And so right around two thousand eight two thousand nine, there’s the creation of the larger black studies at UC. And that’s a Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, an institute for urban policy research and analysis. And then there’s the center. And then in the last couple of years, the art galleries at black studies were created and art galleries at black studies are two different gallery spaces. One of them is in our building in the court and white building, which houses black and Latino studies. And then we have and that’s about a 400 square foot space. And then we have a second gallery that is more of a. Traditional state of the art by box gallery space. White walls, beautiful lighting, hardwood floors really in that kind of tradition of that located. That is I’m in the Jester Hall, which is one of the largest dormitories in the world. I think it’s got three thousand students that live there. And so the Christian Green Gallery, as it’s called, is named after two donors who donated to U.T. US to a body of artworks to create the gallery in concert with money that was provided by the president’s office and the dean’s office, for example. And so what the art galleries at Black Studies do is to celebrate art by people of color and to think about art and its relationship to social justice. And so we’ve done a couple of really important exhibitions. One of them was called March On that showed the various ways that John Lewis’s life matters. So it had Congressman John Lewis form x ray Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Yes, exactly. And so John Lewis’s the illustrations for what becomes the graphic memoir. MOORE Yes. Yes. Those illustrations were on view at the Christian Green Gallery, along with artwork that came from the rest of the University of Texas. So a large scale painting by Charles White, photographs by David Duncan from the civil rights movement that we borrowed from the Harry Ransom Center, you know, small comic books that we purchased specifically for the exhibition for people to see the various kinds of media that. People within the civil rights movement Snick, for example, used to circulate their information both in and their ideology in an artwork forum, but also in more kind of commercial, you know, like comic book form. And so that that’s a great exhibition. Rebecca Giordano did that show. Really happy with that exhibition. Another fantastic show was by the Bay. He is a MacArthur genius, award winning photographer who recently had a book come out. He has for the last few years specialized in portraiture, but he also does these fantastic landscapes in Harlem, in Chicago and around the country. And so there are lots and lots of stories that we tell done. One artist that we’ve shown quite a bit of is Deborah Roberts. You alluded to her earlier.
[0:32:32 Peniel] She knows her internationally recognized artist who lives in Austin.
[0:35:37 Cherise] Yes, that is right. And Deborah Roberts is now best known for her collages and her paintings. Her work has been shown in the gallery to very great its applause and appreciation. So, yeah, we’re we’re doing good work. I’m proud of it.
[0:35:55 Peniel] All right. My final question is, is a more personal one. What what got you interested in both the work of Michael Ray Charles, but also curating and promoting and studying black art?
[0:36:08 Cherise] I’m going to start with the last question. There’s a second question and worked my way. So I went to a small private high school in L.A. and it was one of those schools that had previously been a women only girls only Episcopal school. And one of the kind of holdovers for the house and I’m putting that in quotes that they expected that they were making was that they had music appreciation and art appreciation. And so my senior year, I took art appreciation and music appreciation. And one of the really profound things that you had to do for the art appreciation class and this is at 16 and 17 year old, you had to drive yourself to a museum to see art and not just have your parents take you to museum. And so I drove myself to the J. Paul Getty Museum, as it was called back then.
[0:37:11 Peniel] Oh, yeah, I love that museum.
[0:37:13 Cherise] Yeah. Fantastic museum. And I just thought, this place is amazing. And at that point, they just had the Getty Malibu. There wasn’t yet the Getty Center. And you haven’t been there. I know you have, but it’s a replica of Italian. Pompeiian Villa. It’s right on the coast. Right on a cliff. Yeah. Of PCH overlooking the Pacific. And it’s the most gorgeous and insanely beautiful site. And so there I was 17 and really impressed with that. And I thought, you know, how how can I do more of this? And so when I went to college, I was really interested in the humanities. And I started being interested in the stories that that you would find in arts and in novels. And that’s basically how I got hooked in the very first place. And then I started working in museums and I saw that there was a real need to integrate them, to have more people of color go to museums, to have more people of color working in museums. And so, you know, one of the big things that continues to drive me and what made me kind of stick with our history in the first place is to give people a real feeling of ownership of art. And, you know, I mean that in a couple of ways. I mean, that we people of color feel like we belong in museums not to go and feel uncomfortable or awkward, but to feel like I belong here just like anyone else belongs here. And then also to feel like they can own art, whatever kind of art it is, maybe it’s a reproduction, maybe it’s an original. But to know that it can be within your, you know, discretionary budget, that’s not just millions of dollars that one spends on a Basquiat or a Pollock or something. And so, you know, those are those are the. Kind of big things that drew me to art history and that make me stick with it because I feel like it’s a kind of basic right of ours to also have access to art.
[0:39:44 Peniel] All right. I am glad that you were so inspired. We’re going to we’re going to take away I’m going to say is art as a human right? Black art is a human right. This last stanza. We’ve been talking with Sherry Smith, who is professor of African-American studies at the University of Texas, the chair of African-American Studies Department there. In her latest book is Michael Ray Charles. Does book have a subtitle?
[0:40:11 Cherise] A retrospective
[0:40:13 Peniel] A retrospective. Yes. And it is beautiful. University of Texas Press. Everybody should go and purchase things. Got such beautiful imagery and analysis in their analysis in there. It’s beautiful. So Shari’s thank you for for or for sharing your knowledge with us.
[0:40:33 Cherise] Thank you.
Thanks for listening to this episode and you can check out related content on Twitter at Peniel Joseph. That’s P-e-n-i-e-l J-o-s-e-p-h and our Web site, CSRD.LBJ.utexas.edu and the Center for Study of Race and Democracy is on Facebook as well. This podcast was recorded at the Liberal Arts Development Studio at the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. Thank you.