Basquiat: Still Fly @ 55 Symposium


On Saturday, March 26, 2016, from 10:00am until 8:00pm, there will be a one-day symposium celebrating the life and work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. This event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering at 5 MetroTech Center Pfizer Auditorium in Brooklyn, New York. (Organized by the Africana Studies Program in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University.)

Symposium description:

On August 12, 1988, Jean-Michel Basquiat died at the age of 27. Despite his brief life, Basquiat is arguably one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. In the past couple of years, there has been a global resurgence around Basquiat, particularly through exhibitions done by Brooklyn Museum (USA), AGO Art Gallery (Canada), Guggenheim Bilbao (Spain), _space caribbean (Jamaica), and the renaming of a public square (France).

Last December marked what would have been Basquiat’s 55th birthday. BASQUIAT: STILL FLY @ 55 is a one-day symposium that seeks to reclaim and raise awareness about the legacy of Jean-Michel Basquiat and his significance/ cross pollination in art, fashion, music, and film. The multiplicity of mediums used by Basquiat propelled him to push the envelope in asking the meaning/ definition of art. We must reconstruct the tragedy narrative tied to Basquiat in order to properly celebrate his life and legacy. Why is Basquiat an inspiration today? What artists are following in his footsteps? And finally what is the significance of Basquiat appropriation and consumption by corporations and buyers?

This symposium places academic scholars, artists, and cultural critics in conversation with one another with the goal of unraveling the many sides of Basquiat’s personal and professional life (from his Caribbean identity to his friendship with Andy Warhol). Utilizing various social media platforms to inform local and global audiences, the primary goal of this symposium is to contextualize the diasporic impact of this seemingly timeless spirit of art and street culture in order to understand his resurgence today.


Panel 1: Black Magic: Art, Style, and the Global Stage (10:00 AM – 11:15 AM)

Panel 2: Feeling Gray:  Music, Art, and Being the Only One in the Room

(11:30 AM – 12:45 PM)

Panel 3: The Economy of Basquiat (2:30 PM – 3:45 PM)

Panel 4: Migratory Myths and Island Sensibilities (4:00 PM – 5:15 PM)

Panel 5: “Cuz I Felt Like It” (6:45 PM – 8:00 PM)

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM: Closing Festivities /Fiesta/ Fête

Curators: Ja’nell Ajani & Ayanna Legros

Symposium Participants Include: Sandra Jackson Dumont (The Metropolitan Museum of Art); Derrick Adams (Artist); Michaela Angela Davis (CNN Contributor); Staceyann Chin (Performing Artist/Poet); Yasmin Ramirez (CUNY); Greg Tate (Journalist); Dr. Jason King (NYU Tisch); Dr. Kwami Coleman (Jazz Artist/NYU Gallatin); Fahamu Pecou (Artist); Christopher Stackhouse (Scholar/Writer); Michael Holman (Co-Founder of Basquiat’s Band, Gray); Al Diaz (Co-Founder of Basquiat’s SAMO graffiti tag); Cey Adams (Artist/Graphic Designer); Dr. Suzanne Mallouk (Basquiat’s longtime girlfriend); Lee Quiñones (Artist); Dr. Millery Polyné (NYU Gallatin), Phoebe Hoban (Art Critic/NY Times Journalist); Lina Viktor (Artist); Dr. Tanisha C. Ford (U. MASS); Dr. Michael Ralph (NYU); Sara Jane Boyers (Creator/Editor of Jean-Michel Basquiat/Maya Angelou illustrated book, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me); Miriam Jimenez-Roman (Independent Scholar); Dr. D’weston Haywood (U. Louisiana); Dr. Jana Braziel Evans (U Miami-Ohio); Dr. Johanna Almiron (U. Wisconsin); Ja’Tovia Gary (Filmmaker/Artist).

For more information, see

Also see

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s