‘Black Art Library’ exhibit at MOCAD celebrates work of artists through books

‘This is really a project that’s not just for me, but for the community,’

'Black Art Library' MOCAD exhibit celebrates work of artists through books
'Black Art Library' MOCAD exhibit celebrates work of artists through books

DETROIT – A new exhibit at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is celebrating the work of Black artists through books.

The first rule when you go to a museum is don’t touch the art, but when books themselves become art -- it’s a unique hands on experience.

“I love Black art. I love art books and my background is in art education,” said Asmaa Walton. “It really meshes really well.”

Walton spent the last year scouring the internet and buying hundreds of books on Black visual artists, including painters, sculptors and photographers.

“Having the opportunity to see these Black artists that I didn’t know even existed was very powerful to me,” Walton said. “A large part of exhibit is inviting people to appreciate Black art.”

Walton called the collection Black Art Library.

“The word library brings about so many ideas of being a small child and walking up to the desk with your book, checking out something and knowing books are precious,” Maceo Keeling, a curatorial fellow with MOCAD. “Also there’s this idea that there’s a little bit of ceremony that comes with being in a library, taking time to be with yourself and appreciate literature.”

There’s even a section of children’s books. And the true story of a little girl enamored with the portrait of a First Lady reveals the power of representation.

“I believe it’s called ‘Parker Looks Up,’” Walton said. “That photo was amazing to see how excited she was to see that portrait of Michelle Obama that painted by a Black woman.”

Walton calls this a labor of love. The Black Art Library runs until April 18 at MOCAD with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

“This is really a project that’s not just for me, but for the community,” Walton said. “It takes the community to help me do this work so it’s really exciting to be on display.”

More information can be found on the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit’s official website here.

More: Black History Month stories


About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.