In a tweet that went viral in May and provoked its own cascade of responses, Sargent wrote, “It’s 2019 and we are in the middle of a Renaissance in black artistic production. And you are telling me the best people to evaluate that are the same ones who basically ignored black artists for decades?” While black artists and other artists of color have had more representation in international biennials and museum shows in recent years, the reception of their art is still often framed by a narrow and rarified cultural perspective. White male critics have had and continue to have the biggest platforms for interpreting art and culture. Sargent’s tweet elicited a number of responses on social media and in the world of art coverage. What I find curious is how Edmonds’s images have circulated as part of this discussion, in support of various sides of the debate. That his photographs have repeatedly illustrated articles in recent debates suggests that, for critics and institutions, Edmonds’s art symbolizes the visibility of contemporary black arts—what Sargent calls a contemporary renaissance—and the history of institutional exclusion of black artists.
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