Aug. 6

12:00 PM

Defining a Black Aesthetic

Given the high volume of seamlessly produced black media, conversations around representation have become limiting. Black filmmakers are telling stories from intersecting identities that explore blackness and queerness, blackness and gender non-conformity, blackness and diaspora, etc. What are the borders that define representation, and how do we move beyond it? This panel engages in conversations that move us towards defining a black aesthetic.


Adepero Oduye

ADEPERO ODUYE, who gave a breakout performance as the star of Dee Rees’ PARIAHhails from Brooklyn, New York by way of Nigeria. Her film credits include THE BIG SHORT and TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. She made her Broadway debut opposite Miss Cicely Tyson in the acclaimed revival of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful”. Other theater credits include Mfoniso Udofia’s “Her Portmanteau” at The New York Theater Workshop, “The Bluest Eye,” at the Hartford Stage and Long Wharf Theatres and “Eclipsed” at the Yale Repertory Theatre. She co-starred with Queen Latifah, Phylicia Rashad, Alfre Woodard, Jill Scott and Condola Rashad in Lifetime’s “Steel Magnolias” for director Kenny Leon and in Ava DuVernay’s Miu Miu Women’s Tale “The Door” alongside Woodard and Gabrielle Union. On television, she made guest appearances on “Louie” and two “Law & Order” series. In 2014, she wrote and directed her first short film, BREAKING IN, which won the Inspiration Award at the 2015 Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival.  TO BE FREE, shot in 2016, is her second short film as director and writer.

Barbara McCullough

A native of New Orleans, Barbara McCullough spent most of her life in the Los Angeles area.  Experimental film and video were her first love as she strove to “tap the spirit and richness of her community by exposing its magic, touching its textures and trampling old stereotypes while revealing the untold stories reflective of African American life.” Her film and video projects include: Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of PurificationShopping Bag Spirits and Freeway Fetishes: Reflection on Ritual SpaceFragments, and The World Saxophone Quartet. Currently, she is completing a film project, Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot, a documentary on the musical genius, community activist and mentor to a generation of accomplished jazz musicians. A twenty-year-plus veteran of the visual effects industry, McCullough is currently Chair of the Visual Effects Department at Savannah College of Art and Design – SCAD.

James Bartlett

James E. Bartlett is Executive Director of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout Mr. Bartlett’s diverse career in media and the arts, he has developed new models for creative development that take into account the changing landscape of modern business, media, and technology. In 2006, Mr. Bartlett co-founded MVMT, a business cooperative supporting progressive companies that serve artists and arts organizations through marketing, design, media production, and consulting. Additionally, Mr. Bartlett co-founded, Media MVMT, a film production house whose first feature film, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Currently, Mr. Bartlett is leading MoCADA’s expansion to new 20,000 building, to be located in the Brooklyn Cultural District, which is scheduled to open in 2019.

Rashida Bumbray


Rashida Bumbray is a choreographer and curator.  Bumbray is senior program manager at the Open Society Foundations leading the Arts Exchange, its global arts for social justice initiative. She was guest curator at Creative Time for the public art exhibition Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn (2014). From 2006 to 2011, Bumbray served as Associate Curator at The Kitchen, where she organized several critically acclaimed projects and commissions, including solo exhibitions by Leslie Hewitt, Simone Leigh, Adam Pendleton, and Mai Thu Perret as well as performances by Derrick Adams, Sanford Biggers, Kalup Linzy, Marc Cary, Kyle Abraham, and Camille A. Brown among others. Bumbray began her career as Curatorial Assistant at The Studio Museum in Harlem, where she coordinated major exhibitions, including Energy Experimentation: African-American Artists 1964–1980, with Kellie Jones. Bumbray earned her BA in African American Studies and Theater & Dance from Oberlin College and her MA in Africana Studies from New York University with a focus on Contemporary Art and Performance Studies. A critically acclaimed choreographer, her work has been presented by Harlem Stage, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New Museum, Project Row Houses, SummerStage, Tate Modern, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She was nominated for the prestigious Bessie Award (NY Dance & Performance Awards) for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer in 2014 and is a recipient of the Harlem Stage Fund for New Work. Her performance RUN MARY RUN in collaboration with Jason Moran and Dance Diaspora Collective was named among Best Concerts of 2012 by the New York Times’ Ben Ratliff, a video of which is featured in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  Bumbray’s ring shout work with Dance Diaspora Collective is also featured in Common’s short film Black America Again, directed by Bradford Young (2016). She is presently working on an ongoing collaboration with Simone Leigh and developing an evening-­length work for presentation at Harlem Stage Spring 2018.