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Hip-Hop Architecture Exhibit at Everson

Sekou Cooke-15-81
Opening is Saturday, April 30
Opening is Saturday, April 30(Everson Museum of Art)
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 11:29 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY)

SYRACUSE, NY (April 21, 2022): On Saturday, April 30, the Everson Museum of Art will open Sekou Cooke: 15-81. The exhibition presents architect and urban designer Sekou Cooke’s project We Outchea: Hip-Hop Fabrications and Public Space alongside documents relating to the 15th Ward in Syracuse, New York.

The exhibition centers on Cooke’s project We Outchea, a work commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in 2021 that focuses on the legacy of placement and displacement of Black residents in Syracuse. 15-81 combines We Outchea with photographs and ephemera documenting the 15th Ward in Syracuse, a primarily Black neighborhood demolished in the 1950s in the name of urban renewal. This destruction also made way for the construction of I-81 through the center of downtown Syracuse, as well as a planned Community Plaza, which incorporated government and cultural buildings all contained within a pedestrian-friendly environment. Included in these plans was space for a new art museum, and while most of the planned structures in the Community Plaza never materialized, the Everson Museum was one structure that was ultimately built. Within We Outchea, historical photos are imposed onto the surfaces of new structures in order to reference the past, the history of the site, the people that lived there.

An Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture at Syracuse University until 2021, Cooke recently relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he is now the Director of the Master of Urban Design program at UNC, Charlotte.

As Cooke describes it, his research and work centers on, “the exploration of Hip-Hop Architecture, an approach to contemporary design that embraces hip-hop culture and applies its shape, structure, and ideologies to the built environment.” This movement was also the topic of his recent book, “Hip-Hop Architecture,” published in 2021. Cooke also curated the exhibition Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture, which premiered in 2018 at the AIA Center for Architecture in New York.

Cooke’s work can be seen throughout Syracuse as the designer of the Eat to Live food Co-Op on South Salina and the future Syracuse Hip-Hop Headquarters, which will be home to The Good Life Foundation and a center for youth entrepreneurship.

An Opening Night Reception will be held on Friday, April 29, from 6:00—8:00pm to celebrate and preview Sekou Cooke: 15-81 and four other new exhibitions. This event is free for members, $15 for non-members, and includes hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, and artist appearances.

The following afternoon on Saturday, April 30, 2022 at 2:00pm, Cooke will lead a panel discussion in the Everson’s Hosmer Auditorium that includes Michael A. Speaks, Dean of Syracuse Architecture, and Nathan Williams, Visiting Critic at Syracuse University. They will discuss the themes within the exhibition as it relates to local events and the role of the architect in facilitating and creating frameworks for others to visualize their own environments.

Sekou Cooke: 15-81 will be on view through August 21, 2022. To learn more, visit everson.org/sekou.

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