This article is part of our Design special section on how the recent push for diversity is changing the way the world looks.
Creative Activism Gets a 20-by-45-Foot Canvas
In 2018, Malene Barnett — an artist, textile designer and community builder — attended a prominent event for the New York City design industry in which not one Black creative professional was represented in the many panels and presentations. That year, she founded Black Artists + Designers Guild.
What began as an online directory of architects, artists and furniture, interior and textile designers — “so no one could make excuses that we’re hard to find,” Ms. Barnett said — has flourished into a nonprofit centered on Black imagination and collective action with more than 100 global members.
To spread the organization’s message of creative liberation and activism, a 20-by-45-foot mural called “Facing Futures” has been hand-painted on a building at the intersection of Berry and North 12th Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A collaboration with ￼￼Lamar Advertising and Colossal Media, it will remain on view through April.
The mural, with its six nonbinary portraits and six signature colors inspired by the vegetal dyes used in African textiles, also appeared last month on 375 digital billboards, from Buffalo, N.Y., to Los Angeles.
“It’s for all Black creatives, regardless of gender identity, so they feel seen,” said Ms. Barnett, speaking from Kingston, Jamaica, where she has a Fulbright grant to research the island’s clay culture. “We must work together to face the future, to advocate for equity and inclusivity worldwide.” badguild.info — ANNIE BLOCK
Nepali Carpets That Are Retrofitting Iconography
The work of the artist Tsherin Sherpa, who divides his time between California and Nepal, explores the traditions of his culture through a contemporary lens.
Mr. Sherpa grew up in Kathmandu and was trained in thangka painting, which depicts Buddhist deities and mythological scenes. His latest work, a series of carpets, is in many ways a natural evolution.
“Carpets in the Himalayan community have inherently been mobile objects, used daily by nomadic people,” he said. “Living between two places and traveling around the globe with my work, I find myself to be a bit nomadic as well.” His work both playfully updates traditional iconography and introduces it to a new, young audience. “I think both these experiences help the sustainability of this art form and highlight its relevance,” he said.
A collection of Mr. Sherpa’s carpets, made in collaboration with the Nepali design studio Mt. Refuge, appeared last month as part of the NOMAD art fair in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Called “Artists in Flux,” it was a collaboration with Gucci. The works — with names like “The GIANT ego-lessness,” “Three’s Not Always a Crowd” and “This is not a Rorschach test” (shown) — are produced with Tibetan highland wool, Chinese silk, and cotton in limited editions of 25 each. From 8 by 10 to 10 by 14 feet, they start at $13,350. mtrefuge.com — STEPHEN TREFFINGER
The Hispanic Society Spaces Are Restored
The Hispanic Society Museum & Library, which focuses on Spanish and Portuguese arts and cultures, has undergone a major renovation by Selldorf Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle.
The changes will make the buildings fully wheelchair-accessible and restore Audubon Terrace, the landmarked complex occupying land that was once owned by John James Audubon, where the 119-year-old museum is located.
Phase one of the reopening, on April 6, will also include the Main Court and the Sorolla Gallery.
In the gallery, for the centennial of the Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla’s death, will be “Visions of Spain (1912-1919),” a group of 14 monumental paintings by the artist dedicated to the country’s people, costumes and traditions. (Preparatory gouaches for the series are currently on view at the National Arts Club.)
The Hispanic Society’s chief executive and director, Guillaume Kientz, hopes to share the museum’s collection of 750,000 items in new ways in the updated spaces — and with a broader audience. “I think museums should be less of a monologue and more of a conversation,” he said. “The idea is to bring new ideas, new people, new voices.” hispanicsociety.org — STEPHEN TREFFINGER
A Tribute to a 19th-Century Ceramist and His Influence
Hardly any objects by the ceramist Thomas W. Commeraw have been gathered in one room since he shuttered his workshop in Lower Manhattan in 1819. The New-York Historical Society has reunited nearly two dozen of his thick-walled stoneware pots for “Crafting Freedom: The Life and Legacy of Free Black Potter Thomas W. Commeraw,” on view through May 28.
Born about 1772, enslaved as a child and then set free by a family of German American potters, Mr. Commeraw began designing ceramics in the 1790s, including food storage vessels for oystermen and innkeepers. He stamped the gray clay surfaces with neo-Classical cobalt swags and tassels alongside his last name and his address, Corlears Hook. At the same time, he worked as a church leader and political activist, and in the 1820s, he briefly resettled with his family to Sierra Leone.
The historical society is also displaying ceramic works by the Queens-based artist Sana Musasama that are inspired by Mr. Commeraw’s designs, with ovoid forms splashed in cobalt. The gift shop offers cobalt-and-cream pottery by Kyle Scott Lee, and a coming issue of the annual magazine Ceramics in America will be devoted to Mr. Commeraw. His legacy is further enriched by a monograph called “Commeraw’s Stoneware: The Life and Work of the First African-American Pottery Owner” by A. Brandt Zipp, while efforts are underway to install a tribute plaque to him in the vicinity of Corlears Hook Park on the Lower East Side. — EVE M. KAHN