Press release: As part of Black History Month, SLAM will show ‘Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child’, ‘A Ballerina’s Tale’, and ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’

By | January 24, 2017

ST. LOUIS, Jan. 24, 2017—The Saint Louis Art Museum will mark Black History Month with a variety of programming next month, including three film screenings and free gallery talks and collection tours highlighting African art and works by African-American artists.

On the first three Sundays in February, the museum will screen a different film at 1 pm in the Farrell Auditorium—Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child on Feb. 5, A Ballerina’s Tale on Feb. 12, and Beasts of the Southern Wild on Feb. 19. The screenings are free for museum members, and $5 for the general public.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (Sunday, Feb. 5, 1 pm) centers on an interview that director Tamra Davis shot with Jean-Michel Basquiat more than 20 years ago. The documentary chronicles the meteoric rise and fall of the young artist, from his start as a graffiti tagger to the critical and commercial success he would achieve in the 1980s. The film chronicles Basquiat’s friendship and collaboration with Andy Warhol, as well as Basquiat’s heroin addiction, which worsens after Warhol’s death and ultimately leads to Basquiat’s overdose death in 1988 at the age of 27.

Few dancers make it to the highest levels of classical ballet, and only a fraction of them are black women. A Ballerina’s Tale (Sunday, Feb. 12, 1 pm) tells the story of Misty Copeland, who climbs the ladder at American Ballet Theater from the studio company to the corps de ballet to soloist. The 2015 documentary provides an intimate look at this artist as she tries strives to become the American Ballet Theater’s principal dancer. The film climaxes with a landmark performance by Misty in Swan Lake, fulfilling the dream of many to see a true black swan at a mainstream international company.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (Sunday, Feb. 19, 1 pm) takes audiences to a forgotten but defiant bayou community, where a 6-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural order is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions. Beasts of the Southern Wild was nominated for four Academy Awards, including nominations for Best Picture and Best Director (Benh Zeitlin). The 2012 drama stars Dwight Henry and Quvenzhané Wallis, who at age 9 became the youngest Best Actress nominee in history.

The museum also will celebrate Black History Month with free gallery talks devoted to African art and art by African-American artists. Nichole N. Bridges, associate curator of African art, will discuss “New on View in the African Art Collection” on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 11 am and again on Friday, Feb. 3 at 6 pm. Yvonne Osei, the museum’s Romare Bearden Graduate Minority Fellow, will discuss “The Power of Activation: The Essence of West African Art” on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 11 am and on Friday, Feb. 10 at 6 pm. And Melissa Wolfe, curator of American art, will highlight “African American Art in the American Galleries” on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 11 am and on Friday, Feb. 17 at 6 pm.

Space for gallery talks is limited; please arrive early. Talks start at 11 am on select Thursdays and repeat at 6 pm on the following Fridays. Meet at the Information Center in Sculpture Hall.

In addition to the talks, the museum will offer the free “Highlights of African American Art” tour every day in February. The tour group meets in Sculpture Hall at 10:30 am on Tuesday through Friday, and at 1:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed on Monday.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493, matthew.hathaway@slam.org