Episode #75: Touching Roots: Chenoa Baker
On this week's episode of The Boston Art Podcast, we released the second segment in our new seven part interview series, centered around an exhibition currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, titled Touching Roots: Black Ancestral Legacies in the Americas.
This episode featured Chenoa Baker, who is a writer, independent curator, and contributor to Touching Roots. It was inspiring to us to speak with her and learn about her career path and her experience contributing to this exhibition.
In her own words, Chenoa Baker is an empathetic curator, wordsmith, and descendant of self-emancipators. Materiality, visual research, and ecologies of kinship shape her work. She has worked with many institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.
Her writing appears on many platforms. You can read more of her work at the following locations:
Boston Art Review (including this wonderful interview with Touching Roots artist Ife Franklin)
You can also find Chenoa on Patreon, which features exclusive written content, extended interviews, and tour audio, as well as useful templates in a museum consultant, curator, interpreter, or educator's career toolkit.
Above: Screenshot taken Oct. 2022 from Chenoa's Patreon linked above.
Below is a description from the Touching Roots landing page on the MFA Boston website.
"Africa is at once a point of origin and a myriad of associations—real and imagined—for many Black artists working in the Americas. In the 20th century, some artists self-consciously responded to writer and philosopher Alain LeRoy Locke’s call to engage with “those ancestral arts.” Others continued to practice African artistic traditions passed down through generations.
This exhibition traces narratives of Blackness across the Atlantic world by bringing together work from artists who absorbed and reinterpreted African artistic practices, sacred customs, and cultural expressions. The artworks honor ancestral spirits and Black legacies through painting, sculpture, textiles, and dance. Artists from throughout the Americas are represented—with a special focus on those from or working in New England, like Allan Rohan Crite, Napoleon Jones-Henderson, Ifé Franklin, Bryan McFarlane, Karen Hampton, and Stephen Hamilton. Highlights from the collection include Ubi Girl from Tai Region (1972) by Loïs Mailou Jones, African Woman (about 1933) by James Richmond Barthé, Untitled (1943) by Wifredo Lam, and George Jackson (1971) by Kofi Bailey.
Visitors can explore how shared cultural heritages created connections that formed the basis of communities, highlighting the importance of Africa’s presence in the Americas. By turning their gaze inward and toward Africa, Black artists grounded their artistic expressions and infused strength and insight into their work.
This exhibition accompanies “Stories Artists Tell: Art of the Americas, the 20th Century,” a suite of galleries spanning place and time, and exploring different themes surrounding 20th-century art from the Americas."
This exhibition is included in General Admission. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston has a range of discounts for General Admission tickets, as well as an upcoming free ticket day on Sunday, October 30th. Check out the ticketing page at mfa.org here for more information.