CLIFF JOSEPH

When artist Cliff Joseph co-founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition with Benny Andrews, he was residing here in Jersey City. Although he was only here from 1968 to 1971, this was a crucial moment not only for the artist himself but also for the movement for racial equality in the art world and beyond. In 1969, the BECC first organized in reaction to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's failure to include any black artists in the exhibition called “HARLEM ON MY MIND.” As the title implies, it was supposed to showcase the culture and history of Harlem. In 1971 they continued to be the vocal voice to the movement when the Whitney Museum neglected to hire any experts in African American contemporary art in the curatorial department of their planned show called “CONTEMPORARY BLACK ARTISTS IN AMERICA.”

In response to the riots at the Attica correctional facility in New York in 1971, the artist organization fought for the prisoners' rights and justice leading to found THE ARTS EXCHANGE PROGRAM, a pioneering prison arts program that grew to multiple locations nationwide.

Joseph continued to show his work and worked as an art therapist until he died in 2020.


Feature on Cliff Joseph on Jersey Journal, 1969

538 Bergen Ave, Jersey City, May 2021

*The plaque was taken down per the property owner's request.

Letter to the Whitney Museum written by Cliff Joseph and Benny Andrews, 1971

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT NOW

ART INSTITUTIONS STILL LACK DIVERSITY IN THEIR COLLECTION AND THEIR CURATORIAL POSITIONS

ARTISTS CONTINUE TO PROTEST FOR MORE ACCOUNTABILITY

85% WHITE 87% MALE

STRIKE MOMA

THANKS TO

ANN JOSEPH, NENE HUMPHREY, HOWARD SINGERMAN (CUNY), KYLE WILLIAMS (BENNY ANDREWS ESTATE), KNIKKI KYSER, BRIDGETT PRIDE (SCHOMBURG CENTER), DANNY KLEIN (NJ ROOM JCPL)