Reflections on the Black Cultural Archive Project


Post-it note on Linda Earle’s desk featuring bell hooks quote. Photo courtesy of Linda Earle.

The Center invited nationally recognized educator, administrator, funder, and curator Linda Earle to act as the Center’s 2021 Visiting Scholar, exploring how Black archives can serve as a framework for a multivalent exploration of Black cultural production. In this essay, Earle considers her time in this role.  

“Until we meet again…the diasporic is an act of will and memory.”
—bell hooks, Art on My Mind: Visual Politics

The epigraph prefacing bell hooks’ book of essays has lived on a Post-it above my desk during my work on this project. I’d been rereading the book for pleasure and copied it out—as I sometimes do when with poetry—when the language is arresting and opens subliminal pathways to recognition, emotion, or memory, without losing its mystery or mischief.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage’s invitation to be a Visiting Scholar has been an extraordinary opportunity for someone of my experience: My research is central to what I do, but I don’t see myself as a scholar. I teach, but explicitly as a Professor of Practice. I write about art, but I’m not a critic. I felt myself to be in some ways an unlikely candidate to explore the vast complex territory of Black cultural production. It was my experience, however, that led to my pursuing archives as a way into the broader topic.

Linda Earle framing essay block 1

Linda Earle framing essay block 2

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