My name is Joseph Cuillier. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. Grew up in Houston, TX, and I’m an artist with The Black School.
For the installation we’re thinking about how the Black School functions currently. And we’re very mobile. We have to go wherever the students are so we partner with different youth organizations and schools. So we wanted to create a classroom that worked for our needs. So that was modular, that was adaptive, that could transform the space. But also to create black centered learning space within a larger white institution and white society.
For the tent I was thinking about this idea of black space and how to carve out a space as an artist, as an educator but also the history of like one room schoolhouses or just people meeting in their living room for reading groups. And how early on in the history of this country black education was seen as a threat so there had to be that adaptability.
And also that idea of camouflaging yourself within a hostile environment. Being that learning to read could get you killed as a black person at some point in American history. So some of that learning had to be underground. And moving forward to the 60s and 70s and black power movement and different radical organizations that wanted to teach about black self-determination but had to do so in a covert sense because like programs in our history like COINTELPRO that were trying to disrupt the machinations of these organizations because they viewed their politics as threatening.