Curated by Antwaun Sargent, the “Figures Of Speech” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum opens its glass sliding doors on July 1, 2022, and displays the multidisciplinary aspect of the late Virgil Abloh’s creativity and his creative process until January 29, 2023. Anne Pasternak, the Shelby White and Leon Levy Director of the Brooklyn Museum, has worked with the fine arts institutions [founded in 1895] for the past 15 years and greeted guests before introducing the host of the #BlackVisionaries lunch at the museum on July 28, Sargent, for a preview of the show.
The room filled with young Black creatives, including creative strategists, fashion designers, journalists, dancers, actors, musicians, social influencers, and a curated group of other multidisciplinary artists from all over, were privileged to have a first-look at the exhibit.
Sargent would guide the afternoon lunch with background on the collaboration between himself and Instagram, and connecting with Abloh, and Anne Pasternak on the program. Abloh and Pasternak pulled in Sargent to curate and lead the charge on the future of artistry for Black creatives. Sargent, and the late Virgil Abloh, would work on the “Figure of Speech” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, while Sargent simultaneously supports underserved Black artists through the #BlackVisonaries program, in partnership with Instagram.
When speaking to the round table of guests, Sargent points out his affinity to The Brooklyn Museum, “because that is a museum in New York, who is doing [incredible stuff] like its teen program, but really committed to the diverse audiences.” Sargent acknowledges the undertaking of Brooklyn Museum over its existence with art for all corners of the world. “In the way that folks talk about being committed to [Black people] and other audiences, but Brooklyn Museum, time and time again, has shown up. So when Ann [Pasternak] and Virgil [Abloh] ask me to curate the show, I immediately said yes,” Sargent recalls.
Abloh and his work were the centerpiece of the lunch for Pasternak, Sargent, representatives from Instagram, and guests who gathered to launch the next edition of the #BlackVisionaries program. Antwaun Sargent, a writer, curator, and the #BlackVisionaries Creative Chair, brought the group together to present new opportunities for Black artists, Black small businesses, and Black people in industries and cultural institutions, promoting art forms of all kinds.
The backdrop for the afternoon lunch was the work of Virgil Abloh put on display for art lovers and fans of Abloh and his work, exhibited by the Brooklyn Museum and curated by Sargent. The #BlackVisionaries program is a direct reflection of the artistic efforts of Abloh, and the collaboration between him and Sargent, before his passing. Sargent noted that Abloh has put his creativity into every bit of the show, unfortunately not in the physical placement and layout of the “Figures of Speech” exhibit at Brooklyn Museum, passing away while working on the exhibition.
The exhibition was developed by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and moved to Brooklyn Museum with additional never-before-seen artwork from the archives of Virgil Abloh. The exhibition includes an ad-hoc-like barn house made from wood, Abloh’s furniture collaboration, and almost all phases of his sartorial endeavors. The #BlackVisionaries program offers access to art and artists like Abloh to serve a young and budding palette in the presence of one of the greatest artists of this generation and generations to come.
The #BlackVisionaries program awarded five Black designers last year, including Taofeek Abijako, founder of fashion house Head of State, which attendees previewed a documentary video clip of Abijako, as well as to Black-led small design business, totaling $205,000 in grants. This year Instagram and the #BlackVisionaries program will award 10 grants in partnership with the Brooklyn Museum. Awards will include five $100,000 Visionary Small Business Grants for Black-led organizations in the U.S. focused on design.
Sargent points out that “most folks who don’t have traditional pathways into spaces like the arts and design just need opportunity,” in an official statement of the #BlackVisionaries program. “A grant like this could mean a world of opportunity.”
This year’s #BlackVisionaries program will also be awarding five $30,000 Emerging Visionary Grants for individuals focused on art and design based in the U.S., supported by the Meta Open Arts. The total amount of grants to be awarded, $650,000, is expanding on the resources fostering a community of Black artists, creators, and visionaries.