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Conversations with Sam Pollard and Lyle Ashton Harris on HBO’s "Black Art"

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

David Driskell at work in Sam Pollard’s new documentary Black Art: In The Absence of Light. Image still courtesy of HBO.

In this interview for Observer, Nia Tucker speaks with filmmaker Sam Pollard and artist Lyle Ashton Harris about HBO’s new documentary, Black Art: In The Absence of Light, which emphasizes the importance and history of Black art. Pollard’s new film begins with artist and curator David Driskell -- particularly for the monumental 1976 Two Centuries of Black Art, exhibition shown at the LA County Museum of Art -- before moving to highlight contemporary Black artists and their thoughts and struggles with being represented and accepted by the art world. Pollard and Harris also discuss what the future of Black art might look like, given both the history of exclusion and the current moment of interest in Black artists amidst social and political unrest.

When asked about what inspires him about Black art today, the director said this:

“We’re not monolithic. That every African American artist brings their own perspective and experience and their vision and how they create their work . . . to me that’s what’s fascinating. These contemporary artists stand on the shoulders of those who came before but they also bring their own unique visual perspective to their medium.” - Sam Pollard
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