November 8 – December 20, 2014; February 6 - February 26, 2015; March 20 – May 10, 2015
Alhena Katsof curated Towards the Unknown, the first traveling solo exhibition of drawings, scores and works on paper created by the master musician Yusef Lateef. The exhibition premiered at White Columns in New York (2014), and organized with White Columns, traveled to Hampshire College Gallery, Amherst (2015) and Trinosophes, Detroit (2015). Public programs, including live music and panel discussions, were organized to coincide with each installation of the exhibition.
Towards the Unknown was presented with special thanks to Ayesha Lateef, and Daniel Arnow, Michael Didonna, Matthew Higgs, Norman Blain and Thérèse Légère, Kara Lynch, Alex Marcelo, Rebecca Mazzei, Benny Merris, J.D. Parren, Joel Peterson, Adam Rudolf, Erin Sommerville, Erika Smith, Batya Sobel, Kwasi Tre’ and Matt Waugh.
Image: Yusef Lateef, Zikr Remembered, N.D. Watercolor, pen and ink on paper, 14 x 16 inches.
November 8 – December 20, 2014
As part of the exhibition at White Columns a musical invocation, Autophysiopsychic, took place on Tuesday December 16, 2014:. Adam Rudolph performed Yusef Lateef’s drawings, graphic scores and poetry with Alex Marcelo, Batya Sobel, Matt Waugh and J.D. Parren.
February 6 - February 26, 2015
At Hampshire College, Towards the Unknown was organized in collaboration with Africana Studies in honor of Dr. Lateef and in recognition of Black History Month at Hampshire College. It is sponsored in part by Africana Studies, Office of the Dean of Multicultural Education, The Cultural Center, UMOJA, Office of Alumni and Family Relations,The Career Options Resource Center, The School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, The Music Program, Film, Photo and Video Program, Studio Arts, the Humanities Program, ICP, The School of Interdisciplinary Arts, The School of Critical Social Inquiry, Spiritual Life, CASA, the Center for Feminisms and the Harold Johnson Library all at Hampshire College; Mount Holyoke Studio Art Department; Amherst College Music Department.
Working closely with Professor Kara Lynch, Alhena organized the following events to take place as a part of the exhibition:
February 8, 2015: Musical invocation in resonance with Yusef Lateef's artworks, performed by Alex Marcelo, JD Parran, Jason Robinson, Batya Sobel and Matt Waugh
February 9, 2015: Film screening, Brother Yusef, Jerome Liebling Center, Rm 120
February 26, 2015: FEELING TONE: Improvisation and Practice in Arts and Politics
As part of the exhibition, Alhena organized a panel discussion with Professor John Bracey (University of Massachusetts at Amherst), Professor Constance Valis Hill (Hampshire College), Dr. Terry Jenoure (Director of Augusta Savage Gallery), Professor Kevin Quashie (Smith College) and our moderator, Professor Christopher Tinson (Hampshire College)
March 20 – May 10, 2015
A beloved figure, Yusef Lateef came of age amid the rich musical environment and historic modernist jazz scene of the 1930s in Detroit, Michigan. The exhibition in Detroit was organized by Trinosophes, which is located at the heart of the city in Eastern Market, a site that is featured in Dr. Lateef’s renowned album, Yusef Lateef's Detroit (Latitude 42° 30' Longitude 83°) (1969). As part of the exhibition, Trinosophes presented an evening of music inspired by Lateef, performed by long-time collaborators Adam Rudolph and Ralph “Buzzy” Jones with Alex Marcelo, as well as a panel discussion.
Saturday March 21, 2015: YEYI
A Wordless Psalm of Prototypical Vibrations
Adam Rudolph: Membranophones and Idiophones: handrumset (congas, djembe, tarija), frame drum, thumb pianos, gongs, percussion and mulitphonic singing, sintir, piano
Ralph Jones: Aerophones: alto & CO flutes, bass clarinet, tenor & soprano saxophone, ney, hichiriki, bagpipes, bamboo flutes and piano
Alex Marcelo: Acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes
Saturday March 21, 2015: A panel discussion on Dr. Lateef’s life and work, moderated by Katsof (curator) and including Bill Harris (poet and playwrite), andLars Bjorn and Jim Gallert (co-authors, Before Motown). This event was free and open to the public.
Yusef Lateef (1920 – 2013) was a master musician immersed in a deep exploration of autophysiopsychic music. A Grammy Award winning composer and virtuosic wind player, Dr. Lateef toured, performed and recorded worldwide, creating a prolific body of work. As a major force in the international music scene for more then seven decades he was among the first to incorporate Middle Eastern and Asian reed instruments into the African American music tradition. He recorded more than a hundred albums as a leader and his discography includes recordings for Savoy, Riverside, Prestige, Impulse, Atlantic, as well as an extensive catalogue on his own label, YAL Records. Dr. Lateef frequently invited colleagues and students throughout the Amherst area to record with him. Through his company, Fana Music, he published books about performance and improvisational methodology, numerous works for chamber ensembles, stage bands, duos and wind ensemble or symphony orchestra, as well as his own plays, science-fiction novels and poetry. The National Endowment named Yusef Lateef as an American Jazz Master for the Arts in 2010.
Image: Yusef Lateef records installed at the MAHS Museum, 2015.
The WIRE, Yusef Lateef: Towards The Unknown, Dave Mandl, February 2015
Frieze, Yusef Lateef, Joseph Akel, Issue 132, April 2015
The Recorder, Encores and Curtain Calls: Yusef Lateef, Joseph Marcello, 02/05/15
Detroit News, Exploring Yusef Lateef, the visual artist, Patrick Dunn, 03/19/15
Detroit Free Press, Yusef Lateef’s Genius, Mark Stryker, 03/18/15
CAMH Houston Blog, Best of Art in 2014, Dean Daderko, 01/05/15
doobeedoobeedoo.info, Music vs Visual Arts: "Towards the Unknown" - Yuself Lateef's Autophysiopsychic Art Work Visits New York, Dawoud Kringle, December 2014
Image: Yusef Lateef, Untitled, N.D., Watercolor, pen, ink, marker and pastel on paper, 22 x 30 inches. Courtesy Ayesha Lateef
White Columns is proud to present the first New York exhibition of drawings by the master musician, composer and artist Dr. Yusef A. Lateef (1920 – 2013). The exhibition has been organized by curator Alhena Katsof. Throughout his lifetime, Dr. Lateef was immersed in his creation of ‘autophysiopsychic music.’ He described this as music that comes from one’s physical, mental and spiritual self or ‘from the heart’. As part of this creative continuum, Dr. Lateef made over 100 drawings, as well as innovative graphic notations and scores in which numbers and shapes organize complex interval-based music. This exhibition at White Columns includes examples of these notations alongside a selection of drawings created with watercolor, pen, ink, graphite and glitter.
Working at home, Dr. Lateef drew in the same room where he composed at his piano for over forty years, surrounded by instruments he collected from across the globe. A virtuosic wind musician and vocalist, Dr. Lateef played the tenor saxophone, flute, oboe, shanai, shofar, argol, sarewa, and taiwan koto. He activated some of this technique in his works on paper by pouring small puddles of ink onto the page and then blowing through a straw to spread the liquid. These fanning pools are interwoven with various marks, lines, squiggles, scratches and concentric circles. At times, the shapes resemble emerging trees, candelabra, flowers and clouds. In other instances, ameba-like clusters boom like the cosmos across the page.
Dr. Lateef’s drawing practice was informed by his lifelong immersion in methods of free playing wherein the ‘feeling tone’ of a singular gesture inspires the next. This call and response unfolds one mark at a time, from first to the last, in a process that could take one or many days before a drawing reached completion. As a devout Muslim, his drawings were frequently embedded with references to Allah - The One worthy of worship. This infused his work as an outspoken philosopher, dedicated educator, playwright and science fiction novelist, for whom creativity was a force that exists in myriad forms.
The title of the exhibition is borrowed from an album, co-released with composer and percussionist Adam Rudolph, with new compositions and recordings by Dr. Lateef. The phrase invokes an essence of his seven-decades long meditation on sonic dimensions and their broader social significances, which he practiced across macro and micro planes, moving always and ever, Towards the Unknown.
Image: Adam Rudolph performing Yusef Lateef’s drawings, graphic scores and poetry with Alex Marcelo, Batya Sobel, Matt Waugh and J.D. Parren at White Columns, New York.
Tuesday December 16, 2014