In Conversation: Michael Richards, New York, and the 1990s

Michael Richards was active in community and practice throughout the 1990s, a storied time in the New York City art world. Offering a personal portrait of Michael Richards and a chronology of his time in New York City, this dynamic conversation will animate Richards’s creative histories across The Bronx Museum, Bronx Council on the Arts, Longwood Arts Project, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Studio Museum in Harlem, REPOhistory artists’ collective, and more.

Nicole Awai, artist, Bronx Museum AIM Fellowship alum
Kinshasha Holman Conwill, Deputy Director Emerita of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and former Director of The Studio Museum in Harlem
Moukhtar Kocache, former Director of Programs and Services at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Betti-Sue Hertz, Director and Chief Curator, Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University and former Director of Longwood Arts Project

This conversation will be moderated by Jakeya Caruthers, Assistant Professor, English and Africana Studies, Drexel University.

Register for free HERE.

Image: Michael Richards with Consume (1993) at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1994. Photograph by Mel Wright.

Michael Richards with "Consume," 1994. Photograph taken at The Bronx Museum of the Arts.
Oct 12, 2023      7pm - 9pm
    • Jakeya Caruthers, Assistant Professor, English and Africana Studies, Drexel University
    • Kinshasha Holman Conwill, Deputy Director Emerita of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture and former Director of The Studio Museum in Harlem
    • Moukhtar Kocache, former Director of Programs and Services at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
    • Nicole Awai, artist, Bronx Museum AIM Fellowship alum
    • Betti-Sue Hertz, Director and Chief Curator, Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University and former Director of Longwood Arts Project

    Jakeya Caruthers

    Jakeya Caruthers is Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies at Drexel University. Her scholarship attends to black political aesthetics within 20th and 21st century cultural production and to the study of race, gender, sexuality, and state discipline. She has written on the work of Michael Richards for the Studio Museum in Harlem and is co-editor of a double-volume anthology entitled Abolition Feminisms (Haymarket Books, 2022) that includes abolitionist art practice as a crucial element of the books’ collective analyses.  


    Kinshasha Holman Conwill

    Kinshasha Holman Conwill is Deputy Director Emerita of the National Museum of African American History & Culture. In her two-decade career at the Museum, she worked to fulfill the museum’s vision of expanding its collections, fostering external partnerships, and developing exhibitions and programs. She was the lead strategist for the execution of its design and construction and the planning of its groundbreaking and grand opening. She was lead editor and co-editor for major publications, including Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures, Dream A World Anew: The African American Experience and the Shaping of America, We Return Fighting: World War I and the Shaping of Modern Black Identity, Make Good the Promises: Reclaiming Reconstruction and its Legacies and Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment. A respected author, artist, and expert on contemporary art, she is a former director of The Studio Museum in Harlem and was a commissioner for an award-winning contemporary African art exhibition at the Venice Biennale. She is a past Chairman of the National Museum and Library Services Board, and has served on the boards of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Municipal Art Society of New York, and the Association of Art Museum Directors, and as a panelist for major private, federal and state arts agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, The Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions, and a number of private foundations; and has served on the faculties of the Virginia Management Institute, the Harvard University Program for Art Museum Directors, and the Salzburg Seminars. She was named one of the 100 most influential museum professionals of the 20th century by the American Alliance of Museums. She is a member of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the recipient of the Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor from the French Government, the highest civilian decoration awarded in France.

    Moukhtar Kocache

    Moukhtar Kocache has over twenty five years of expertise in philanthropy, nonprofit management, curatorial practice and cultural and civil society development. Born in Beirut and raised in Paris, he has lived in Washington DC and Cairo and since 2012, divides his time between New York and Istanbul. From 2004 to 2012 he was Program Officer at the Ford Foundation’s regional office in Cairo. During his tenure, he worked on the development and sustainability of arts and culture spaces, networks and service infrastructure. He also programmed and managed a cluster of grants in support of alternative and emerging media platforms and media reform agendas, as well as a cluster of grants to support the development of local philanthropy in the MENA region. While at Ford, he also collaborated with colleagues on gender equity, HIV/AIDS and conflict/crisis management grantmaking programs.At the end of his tenure he managed a portfolio of grants that exceeded $15 million. From 1998 to 2004 he was Director of Programs and Services at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in New York, a leading arts council in the US where he initiated and developed residency programs, art in the public realm initiatives, exhibitions, publications, conferences and seminars as well as workshops and resources for individual artists and small arts organizations. He also closely collaborated with city departments such as MTA, Department of Cultural Affairs, Parks & Recreation, City Hall, Department of Transportation, Community Board 1 and the Port Authority of NY & NJ. He was a juror on various occasions for public works projects for Department of Cultural Affairs and MTA. During his tenure at LMCC, he directly supervised and nurtured the creative processes of hundreds of artists and small organizations.

    Nicole Awai

    Nicole Awai (b. 1966, Trinidad) is a multi-media artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Awai earned her master’s degree in Multimedia Art from the University of South Florida in 1996. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture residency in 1997 and was artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2000. Awai received the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant in 2011 and an Art Matters Grant in 2012. Awai is an inaugural awardee of the 2019 BRIC Colene Brown Art Prize. Her work has been exhibited at such venues as MOMA PS1, Brooklyn Museum, Queens Museum, Kemper Museum, Museum of Latin American Art, California African American Museum, the Biennale of Ceramic in Contemporary Art in Italy, and the Busan Biennale in Korea. Recent exhibitions include The High Line Network: New Monuments for New Cities, Citizenship: A Practice of Society, MCA Denver, Mas Alla, El Mar Canta (Beyond, the Sea Sings), Times Art Center Berlin and Nicole Awai: Feared & Revered at the Materials for the Arts Gallery, (A Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs NYC) Long Island City, NY.

    Betti-Sue Hertz

    Betti-Sue Hertz is the Director and Chief Curator at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery since 2019. Her curatorial and scholarly work focuses on the intersection of critical visual culture, transnational exchange and socially relevant issues. Trained as an artist and art historian, she is committed to the ideals of freedom of expression and the liberatory potential of the convergence of art and politics. Her curatorial projects at the Wallach include Uptown Triennial, The Protest and The Recuperation and Autumn Knight—Nothing #26: The Potential of Nothing is Everything (wallach). She was curator in residence at HOW Art Museum, Shanghai in 2018. Hertz was the Director of Visual Arts at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts from 2008-2015, where she curated numerous large scale exhibitions often focused on global exchange and political agency including Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa (organized in collaboration with San Francisco Museum of Modern Art); Dissident Futures; Song Dong: Dad and Mom, Don’t Worry About Us; Renée Green: Endless Dreams and Time-Based Streams and Nayland Blake: Free!Love!Tool!Box! which received an award from the International Art Critic Association; among others. She was Curator of Contemporary Art at the San Diego Museum of Art from 2000-2008 where she managed the collection and curated special exhibitions including Eleanor Antin: Historical Takes, the pioneering feminist artist’s late work of parodies of Greek and Roman mythologies; and Transmission: The Art of Matta and Gordon Matta-Clark, the first exhibition pairing father and son, emphasizing their early training in architecture. The traveling exhibition, Past in Reverse: Contemporary Art of East Asia, an in-depth consideration of cross-cultural regional developments, received the prestigious Emily Hall Tremaine Award. Hertz was on the staff of the Bronx Council on the Arts from 1987-1998. While there, in 1991 she curated Las Casitas: An Urban Cultural Alternative, which was on view at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. before traveling to the Bronx Museum of Art. She was Director at the Councils’ Longwood Arts Project from 1992-1998. During that period she served as guest curator at the Bronx Museum of the Arts for several exhibitions including Beyond the Border: Art by Recent Immigrants and co-curator of Urban Mythologies: The Bronx Represented since the 1960s. Hertz was the Executive Director of Bronx River Art Center and Gallery from 1984-1987. She has taught social art history and theory courses at Stanford University, San Francisco Art Institute and UC Berkeley. She was a member of Stanford Art Institute’s Creative Cities Working Group (2016-2019) and a founding member of RepoHistory (1989-2000). Hertz studied in the Ph.D. Program in Art History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York with a focus on contemporary art and architectural theory, holds an MFA from Hunter College, CUNY and a BA from Goddard College.

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