Jean-Michel, documentary

Hennessy and Thurgood Marshall College Fund Partner With Brooklyn-based Gallery To Make Art Accessible to HBCUs

Today, Hennessy and Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) announce a new collaboration with Brooklyn-Based, The Bishop Gallery and Group Black, the largest collective of Black-owned media, to bring the “Our Friend Jean” Exhibition to six Historically Black Colleges and Universities nationwide.

The HBCU campus tour of the exhibition includes Hampton UniversityHoward UniversityClark Atlanta UniversityTennessee State UniversityDillard University, and Texas Southern University, according to a press release.

From now through Dec. 7, 2022, HBCU students will be able to participate in gallery programs such as private tours, talks with curators and collectors, and special immersive experiences designed at each school. “Our Friend, Jean” was first curated and exhibited by The Bishop Gallery in 2019 in the artist’s hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. In conjunction with collector Alexis Adler, gallerist and curators Erwin John and Stevenson Dunn, Jr. developed this exhibition and tour in their continued mission to make the arts more accessible to underrepresented groups.

(Image: Jean-Michel Basquiat “Blue” Mix Media on Paper / PR Newswire / Authenticated by the Estate Of Jean-Michel Basquiat)

“Since the inception of our Hennessy Fellows Program in 2019, we’ve worked with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to advance educational pathways for Black students nationwide and encourage them to push the limits of their potential,” said Jasmin Allen, senior vice president, Hennessy U.S.

“This new commitment allows us to continue that mission and reach more HBCU campuses, providing students with access to renowned art and culture.”

“Our Friend, Jean” is a curated collection of 20 plus artworks on loan from collectors who knew Jean-Michel Basquiat as friends, lovers, and collaborators. The collectors consist of Jane DiazHilary JaegerKatie Taylor, and Lucy Sante, and also include photographer Alexis Adler, who was Basquiat’s friend and roommate, and Al Diaz, co-creator of SAMO©. Adler’s rare photographs collection shines a light on Basquiat’s personal life, and they will be sharing their remembrances and untold stories about their friendship with Basquiat throughout the week at each location. Hennessy and TMCF will also host an exclusive experience celebrating Black excellence and the legacy of Jean-Michel Basquiat in each tour city.

“The exhibition will highlight some of the earliest artworks created by America’s most influential artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.”

“His massive influence on pop culture and record-breaking sales continue to dominate the art world, as he remains one of the most sought-after artists in history,” Stevenson Dunn, Jr., co-owner of The Bishop Gallery. “During the immersive gallery experience, there will be live discussions with Basquiat’s close friends and people who knew him personally. These stories will hopefully help students gain insight into Jean-Michel’s early influences and creative inspirations.”

Group Black has quickly become a major player in the media space, known for creating custom opportunities and scaled distribution for Black-owned media and creators that would not otherwise be available. With this experience, Group Black is working with The Bishop Gallery to create a unique opportunity to authentically connect the students and culture at HBCU’s with the inspiring works of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

“It is essential that we amplify diverse creativity,” said Bonin Bough, co-founder and chief strategy officer.

“By partnering with The Bishop Gallery to bring Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artwork to HBCU’s across the country it is our hope that it inspires the next generation of culture creators.”

To date, Hennessy has committed $14 million over 10 years to TMCF, through the Hennessy Fellows program, which has helped to increase the visibility of HBCU talent to take on leadership roles across major organizations in North America. As of 2022, more than 30 Hennessy Fellows have successfully completed the program and progressed into full-time employment. Now, Hennessy and TMCF are able to support The Bishop Gallery with Group Black in engaging and educating more HBCU students about “Our Friend, Jean” Exhibition, eliminating previous barriers to access and creating more equity in the arts community.

The tour began at Hampton University last week Friday and new tour dates will be announced throughout the fall and winter.