BOMB’s Oral History Project is dedicated to collecting, developing and preserving the stories of distinguished visual artists of the African Diaspora.

Hassinger Pink Trash 4

Maren Hassinger, Pink Trash, an installation and performance in three New York City Parks on the defiling of nature, 1982.

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Odili Donald Odita by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi
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For BOMB’s Oral History Project, Odita, known for his geometric paintings, recalls growing up as a refugee from the Nigerian Civil War and the influence of his father, a historian of African art.

Odili Donald Odita by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi
Od19 010 Flower Hr

For BOMB’s Oral History Project, Odita, known for his geometric paintings, recalls growing up as a refugee from the Nigerian Civil War and the influence of his father, a historian of African art.

Oral History Project: Willie Cole by Nancy Princenthal
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“To me it was about energy, persistence, optimism, will, desire, and manifestation. I believed that everything I wanted was already in the world and that it was my job to be aware enough to see opportunity when it’s headed my way.”

Betsy Sussler on the Oral History Project
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If artists are not given the time and space to tell their own story, others will do it for them.

Oral History Project: Janet Olivia Henry & Sana Musasama
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“When you’re an artist, you bring what you know, what you think, what you’ve experienced, your aesthetic, your ambition, and it doesn’t have to be conscious. In fact it shouldn’t be self-conscious. If the work isn’t speaking to you, if you’re not getting it from what you’re seeing, you’ve failed, and no amount of explanation is going to change that.” —Janet Olivia Henry


“Making our art is the purest thing we do. There are no hidden lies. My work is my truth as I have lived it.”—Sana Musasama


Linda Goode Bryant by Rujeko Hockley
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“I was motivated to pursue a way to change the conditions that were causing Black artists I interfaced with every day to say, ‘They won’t let us, they won’t let us, they won’t let us.’ I got tired of hearing that, and I said, ‘Fuck them! Let’s start a gallery!’ So that’s how JAM got started. It was never about being included.”

—Linda Goode Bryant, “Recollections, Linda Goode Bryant” in Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power

Maren Hassinger by Lowery Stokes Sims
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“Right, they weren’t paintings, they weren’t colorful, but I kept doing them because that’s what would come to me. I could have stopped, I suppose, but to me they seemed like good pieces and they were in line with my thinking. Artists do what they think is important to them in their life span. That’s what they’ve always done—Rembrandt or Van Gogh or Picasso. They did what they did because they thought it was important.”

Announcing BOMB’s 2018 Oral History Fellow
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The Oral History Fellowship is a post-graduate editorial fellowship offered by BOMB Magazine, with a goal to organize and publish interviews by artists of the African Diaspora who are based in New York.

William T. Williams by Mona Hadler
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“I didn’t want to paint figuratively. I didn’t want something that was overtly referencing the social issues around me, but I wanted to find a way to describe them. How do you internalize this? How do you make a form that forces a painting to be an experience that is not necessarily easy to see, handle, or look at?”

James Little by LeRonn P. Brooks
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“The reward is getting through the tough stuff. And that’s what’s perplexing about the art thing. When I was going to school there were kids that could draw their asses off. There were kids that were better draftsman than me, for certain. But no one was more determined than me.”

Peter Bradley by Steve Cannon, Quincy Troupe & Cannon Hersey
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“I don’t want to mention names, but there are several black artists that would like to shoot me today because they weren’t in that show. Some of them are dead, but the ones that aren’t dead still give me a lot of bullshit every time I see them.”

Eldzier Cortor by Terry Carbone
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“I’m fighting between control and letting nature take its course.”

Gerald Jackson by Stanley Whitney
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“It turns out making art was the best idea [for me]. My mother’s idea was good because it got me started. She said, ‘Look, you are skinny; you are little. You can’t hang out with your daddy and them big guys.’”

Oral History Project: Stanley Whitney by Alteronce Gumby
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“My work was just like art history; it was all Velázquez, Goya, Cézanne, and Soutine. But when I saw Morris Louis I saw a way into the present.”

Terry Adkins by Calvin Reid
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“I obtusely landed in the best place possible.”

Melvin Edwards by Michael Brenson
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“I just wanted to be sure I didn’t get caught not expressing what I thought was important to me. That can easily happen, because you can easily get discouraged by not being allowed to participate, or just being ignored, when you know your work is beyond ignoring.”

Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe by Kalia Brooks
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“We have to tell the truth in the image.”

Adger Cowans by Carrie Mae Weems
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“Photographers and artists are alchemists at the highest level, I think.”

Edward Clark by Jack Whitten
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Clark talks to his friend and fellow painter, Jack Whitten, about growing up in Louisiana, coming of age in Chicago, heady days in Paris, and living in New York City when the abstract expressionists ruled.

Kara Walker & Larry Walker
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“I would like to do more of that kind of thing: travel, spend some time in a place and really work from a different vantage point. I don’t know what will happen in my work from that, but I trust my ability to find the tools to find my way into my work. I think I will sit out in the woods more.”

Wangechi Mutu by Deborah Willis
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“The collage works are going to be life-size. My work increased in scale when I realized that I wanted people to enter the worlds or to see them almost like dioramas— these places that they could be immersed into, with their own social structures and their eco-systems.”

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