Landscape by 19th-Century Black Abolitionist Painter Gifted to the U.S. Capitol, and Other News

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Landscape with Rainbow (1859) by Robert S. Duncanson

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A painting by Robert S. Duncanson was chosen for the U.S. Capitol gift-giving ceremony. 

A painting by the famous Civil War–era Black artist Robert S. Duncanson was chosen by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Senator Roy Blunt for the gift-giving ceremony at the U.S. Capitol rotunda. The time-honored tradition showcased the work Landscape with Rainbow (1859) by the Cincinnati artist, who was popular among abolitionists that bought his paintings and sponsored his trip to Europe to study the Old Masters. Donated by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the landscape scene features a youthful couple strolling through fertile pastures towards a house at the end of a rainbow. Among them, cattle head home toward the cottage, symbolizing a harmonious union with humans and nature. This kind of rural paradise was typical for Duncanson, who immortalized America’s late hope for peace before the Civil War. Following suit, Dr. Biden said: “I like the rainbow, good things to follow.”

Joe Biden immediately rejoins the Paris Agreement and cancels the Keystone XL Pipeline.

As one of his first actions in office, President Joe Biden has rejoined the Paris Agreement and rescinded the construction permit for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. He’s also begun the process of reinstating more than 100 environmental regulations that were reversed under the Trump administration. “We’re going to combat climate change in a way we have not before,” Mr. Biden said before signing the executive orders, though he cautioned more work remains to be done. “They are important but we’re going to need legislation for a lot of the things we’re going to do.” That might prove difficult given Democrats’ razor-thin majority in the Senate, but the executive orders are a solid first step in realizing the country’s ambitious target to eliminate carbon emissions from the electric power sector by 2035 and the entire economy by 2050, goals aligned with the UN’s climate science report that calls for net zero global emissions. Expect more legislation to come: Biden has already directed federal agencies to review Trump-era decisions “that were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest.” 

In a final executive order, Trump reveals plans to build a national sculpture garden. 

In one of his final acts in office, former (!) president Donald Trump has issued an executive order naming the notable figures that will be honored in his National Garden of American Heroes. Trump proposed the sculpture garden in response to growing calls to reevaluate public monuments that honor Confederate leaders and slave owners, many of which were damaged or toppled during this past summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. The garden, which currently has no funding or location, will honor figures with a wide range of accomplishments in film, science, religion, politics, sports, and art, among other fields. Current names include Thomas Edison, George Washington, Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Rosa Parks, and Kobe Bryant. The project isn’t without detractors: “No president of the United States or federal government has any business dictating us citizens who our historical heroes should be,” historian Michael Beschloss told Axios. “This is not Stalin’s Russia.”

A collage by Olalekan Jeyifous

Olalekan Jeyifous’s latest work shows a dystopian New York overtaken by climate change…

The Brooklyn-based artist Olalekan Jeyifous has created a new work for MoMA’s upcoming exhibition “Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America,” which will explore the ways space and land are apportioned and navigated. Using a combination of analog and digital collage, the piece depicts a dystopian New York overtaken by climate change and explores “vanishing urban ephemera and architecture of Brooklyn,” such as community centers and storefront churches succumbing to gentrification. Opening Feb. 20th, the exhibition will showcase multidisciplinary work by 10 Black talents, including landscape architect Walter Hood and artist Amanda Williams. “Architecture is at the heart of the show,” says MoMA associate curator Sean Anderson. “It is architecture that is not specifically about buildings, but about how the architecture of certain spaces is emblematic of anti-Black racism.” 

…while Virgin Hyperloop releases an anti-dystopian sonic identity, Human Forward. 

After successfully completing the inaugural manned trip in late 2020, Virgin has released the sonic identity for Hyperloop. Created by sonic design studio Man Made Music, the score, dubbed Humanity Forward, took roughly nine months to develop. “We reject the kind of dystopian future you see so often in film and other media, cold blues and purples, impersonal—super fast—but all about the technology and not about the people,” says Sara Luchian, director of passenger experience at Virgin Hyperloop. “That’s not what we’re going for at all. We have a vision of the future that’s human-centric. Comfort, safety, reliability, convenience, optimism.” From there, Man Made extracted and remixed elements for other moments during the Hyperloop journey: doors opening, pod lights dimming, and an arrival chime, among others. Listen to the full sonic identity here

Roger Mandle, museum director who helped bring art and design to Qatar, dies at 79. 

Roger Mandle was a force majeure of art and design for decades before he died in his home in Dartmouth, MA, on Nov. 28th. His wife, a mixed media artist, said the cause was cancer. The former executive director and chief officer of museums at the Qatar Museums Authority worked closely with Sheikha al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to guide the construction of the National Museum of Qatar designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel. He also oversaw major installations in Qatar with artists including but not limited to Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, Takashi Murakami, and Louise Bourgeois. “He helped create a road map for the development of the Qatari art program,” said Edward Dolman, CEO of Phillips, who spent three years as director of the Sheikha’s office and served as the acting CEO of Qatar Museums.

Mushroom mycelium helmet by NOS Design and Agustin Otegui in collaboration with Diego Mata and Axel Gómez-Ortigoza

Today’s attractive distractions:

Now you can grow your own bicycle helmet with mushroom mycelium.

If you’re looking for the counterculture of today, steer clear of Instagram.

Es Devlin, Tom Dixon, and other designers customize wooden furniture.

Travis Scott and Byredo relaunch the “Space Rage” fragrance collection.


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