Bridget R. Cooks, associate professor of African American studies and art history, has received a $47,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to fund the forthcoming exhibition The Black Index, which she has organized and curated.

A collection of works by six artists, Dennis Delgado, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Alicia Henry, Titus Kaphar, Whitfield Lovell, and Lava Thomas, The Black Index serves as an alternative to the barrage of photographs of Black people who have been murdered, incarcerated, and disappeared. The exhibition centers the resilience and beauty of Black people and creates a space for community-building and grieving for what is lost.

“I'm delighted by the generous support of the Ford Foundation for The Black Index exhibition,” Cooks said. “The exhibition artists have made breathtaking works that contest the conceptual lens of Black containment that is always already present in viewing strategies. This funding will allow thousands of people across the country to experience art that addresses the complexity of Black lives and the ongoing state of suffering because of its loss.”

Cooks is an expert on African American art and culture, Black visual culture, and museum criticism. She is the author of Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum (Massachusetts, 2011), which won the James A. Porter & David C. Driskell Book Award in African American Art History. She has also served as a museum educator for the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The Ford Foundation annually selects and supports projects that reduce inequality or strengthen social justice institutions across the globe. The grant will support the overall expenses of the exhibition presentation, its cross-country tour, and catalogue publication.

The Black Index will exhibit in 2021 at UCI’s Contemporary Art Center Gallery; the Palo Alto Art Center; the Art Galleries at Black Studies at the University of Texas at Austin; and Leubsdorf Gallery at Hunter College.

Image credit: Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, The Evanesced (2016–)
Courtesy of the Artist
Photo: Michael Underwood