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Letter from the Editor: Nakia Hill

Issue 06: Timestamp

Revel in Black Excellence

As I write this letter, I am reminded of my ancestors: Zora Neale Hurston, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gordon Parks, Toni Morrison, Alvin Ailey, Chadwick Boseman, and Marvin Jason Bynoe. I honor your life. I uplift your legacy. And to any Black artist dead or alive who was born in Boston, lived in Boston, or just passed through this imperfect city, this is for you. Any Black artist in Boston who has labored in your art studio, can’t even afford a space to create or call home, or maybe you’ve just never been acknowledged publicly, received fair pay, honorable mention or recognition in fancy publications, this is for you too. After the hell Black people have endured from the transatlantic slave trade and throughout 2020, this is another chance for us to exhale and celebrate just for a moment.

Revel in Black Excellence is my response to my soul’s call to action. I created this section with the intention to celebrate Black artists in Boston. This is my love letter to each and every one of you beautiful, brilliant Black artists in the city that I call home. Roxbury, stand up!

Last summer, I was introduced to BAR’s editor-in-chief, Jameson Johnson, through a fellow writer. We exchanged a few emails and then met over the phone. After our phone conversation, Jameson extended an opportunity for me to consider joining the editorial board. I was intrigued, but hesitant. I am extremely selective about where I deposit my time, energy, and intellectual property. As a Black woman, it can be emotionally laborious for me to show up in spaces where I am often the only person of color. After reading through a few issues of BAR magazine that Jameson gifted me, I pitched a wild idea. I expressed my interest in curating a section featuring all Black artists. I took it a step further and requested that all of the pieces written in this section be authored by Black writers. I also asked that the photographers and illustrators be Black, POC, or LGBTQ+ artists of color as well. I was prepared to be thanked for my time and for my pitch to be declined. Instead, I was named Boston Art Review’s first Black editor.

As BAR’s first Black editor, I pray that my existence will create more space for Black and POC editors, writers, photog-raphers, and artists in Issue 06 and beyond. Revel in Black Excellence was curated with intention and legacy front of mind. This section features stories of artists who haven’t quite received the appropriate level of coverage showcasing the depth of their artistry. Revel in Black Excellence was created for Black artists and by Black artists. I would like to publicly thank writers slandie, Asiyah, Lex, Jacquinn, Jonathan, Christopher, Lizz, and Margo for your care, creativity, and tireless revisions and research on your pieces.

To every avid and new BAR reader who does not identify as Black, I welcome you to have a seat at our table. As the guest editor, I wanted writers to write in their most authentic voices. The goal was not for this section to fit into BAR, but for BAR to fit into our world as Black artists. I told all of my writers, write like you speak in real life. Writing with this in mind birthed “Home Is a Place Called Bella” and “Embodying Art: The Black, Immigrant, and Queer Body on Display.

The tone, style of writing, and joy found in this section may lead you to ask yourself, why is this section even necessary? Well, it is necessary because we belong here. The artists featured deserve to be captured in their truest essence knowing that when they open this publication they feel seen and proud of how they were depicted on the page. I challenge BAR readers to continue to research and support each Black artist featured in this issue whose work resonates with you. Don’t support them because they are Black. Support them because they are artists.

#JusticeForBreonnaTaylor