The Oral History Project


Since 2014, BOMB’s Oral History Project has staged one-on-one interviews with New York City based visual artists of African descent, conducted by curators, scholars, and cultural producers. 


The Oral History Project is dedicated to collecting, documenting, and preserving the stories of distinguished visual artists of the African Diaspora. The Oral History Project has organized interviews with artists including Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Melvin Edwards, James Little, Peter Bradley, Eldizer Cortor, Gerald Jackson, Stanley Whitney, Terry Adkins, Melvin Edwards, Adger Cowans, Edward Clark, Kara Walker and Larry Walker, and Wangechi Mutu.  Interviews have been conducted by Mona Hadler, LeRonn P. Brooks, Steve Cannon, Quincy Troupe, Cannon Hersey, Terry Carbone, Stanley Whitney, Alteronce Gumby, Calvin Reed, Michael Brenson, Kalia Brooks, Carrie Mae Weems, Jack Whitten, and Deb Willis. 


The series is sent via email to more than 18,400 readers and is available, free of charge, in BOMB’s searchable online archive. Upon completion, each oral history is posted on BOMB’s home page for a month where it can be viewed by anyone of BOMB’s 1.5 million annual readers. Over 140,000 viewers have visited BOMB’s website for the sole purpose of reading the Oral Histories.


The Oral History Fellowship is a one to two year post-graduate editorial fellowship offered by BOMB Magazine, with a goal to organize and publish interviews by artists of the African Diaspora who are based in New York. The fellow’s responsibilities include managing production, editing multiple drafts of manuscripts, transcribing audio recordings of interviews, fact-checking, conducting biographical research, and producing one to two public programs inspired by the Oral Histories.


Current Fellow: Stephanie E. Goodalle

Past Fellows: Evan Coles, Terence Trouillot

Partnerships: The Oral History Project has partnered with New York cultural institutions including the Brooklyn Museum, 651 Arts, and the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA)  to facilitate workshops and group discussions. BOMB’s Oral History Live! is a restaging of the one on one interviews that inform the written oral histories. In 2015 we featured James Little in conversation with Dr. LeRonn Brooks at the Studio Museum in Harlem. BOMB’s Oral History Live with Maren Hassinger and Lowery Sims is slated for September 29th, 2018 in the Harriet Tubman room of the Harlem Library. This event is hosted in partnership with the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Support: The Oral History Fellowship is funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The Oral History Project is funded by New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Agnes Gund, Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation Bay, and Paul Foundations Humanities New York

Advisory Panel:  Sanford Biggers, Thelma Golden, Kellie Jones, Mickalene Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Stanley Whitney and Jack Whitten (in memoriam).

15 Articles
Sorted by
Maren Hassinger by Lowery Stokes Sims
Hassinger High Noon 2

“Right, they weren’t paintings, they weren’t colorful, but I kept doing them because that’s what would come to me. I could have stopped, I suppose, but to me they seemed like good pieces and they were in line with my thinking. Artists do what they think is important to them in their life span. That’s what they’ve always done—Rembrandt or Van Gogh or Picasso. They did what they did because they thought it was important.”

Announcing BOMB’s 2018 Oral History Fellow 
Sgoodalleweb 1

The Oral History Fellowship is a post-graduate editorial fellowship offered by BOMB Magazine, with a goal to organize and publish interviews by artists of the African Diaspora who are based in New York. 

William T. Williams by Mona Hadler
William T Williams 01

“I didn’t want to paint figuratively. I didn’t want something that was overtly referencing the social issues around me, but I wanted to find a way to describe them. How do you internalize this? How do you make a form that forces a painting to be an experience that is not necessarily easy to see, handle, or look at?”

James Little by LeRonn P. Brooks
464937842 04142017 James Little Bomb 35

“The reward is getting through the tough stuff. And that’s what’s perplexing about the art thing. When I was going to school there were kids that could draw their asses off. There were kids that were better draftsman than me, for certain. But no one was more determined than me.”

Peter Bradley by Steve Cannon, Quincy Troupe & Cannon Hersey
Pbradley Bomb 1

“I don’t want to mention names, but there are several black artists that would like to shoot me today because they weren’t in that show. Some of them are dead, but the ones that aren’t dead still give me a lot of bullshit every time I see them.”

Eldzier Cortor by Terry Carbone
Cortor Bomb 1

“I’m fighting between control and letting nature take its course.”

Gerald Jackson by Stanley Whitney
Jackson Gerald 32 Bomb Oralhistory

“It turns out making art was the best idea [for me]. My mother’s idea was good because it got me started. She said, ‘Look, you are skinny; you are little. You can’t hang out with your daddy and them big guys.’”

Stanley Whitney by Alteronce Gumby
186885637 04202015 Stanley Whitney 00 Bomb Oralhistory

“My work was just like art history; it was all Velázquez, Goya, Cézanne, and Soutine. But when I saw Morris Louis I saw a way into the present.”

Terry Adkins by Calvin Reid
Terry Adkins 01 Bomb Oral History

“I obtusely landed in the best place possible.”

Melvin Edwards by Michael Brenson
Edwards 1

“I just wanted to be sure I didn’t get caught not expressing what I thought was important to me. That can easily happen, because you can easily get discouraged by not being allowed to participate, or just being ignored, when you know your work is beyond ignoring.”

Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe by Kalia Brooks
Ashe 01

“We have to tell the truth in the image.”

Adger Cowans by Carrie Mae Weems
Cowans 01

“Photographers and artists are alchemists at the highest level, I think.”

Edward Clark by Jack Whitten
Ed Clark 01

Clark talks to his friend and fellow painter, Jack Whitten, about growing up in Louisiana, coming of age in Chicago, heady days in Paris, and living in New York City when the abstract expressionists ruled.

Kara Walker & Larry Walker
Walker 01

“I would like to do more of that kind of thing: travel, spend some time in a place and really work from a different vantage point. I don’t know what will happen in my work from that, but I trust my ability to find the tools to find my way into my work. I think I will sit out in the woods more.”

Wangechi Mutu by Deborah Willis
Mutu Oral History 09

“The collage works are going to be life-size. My work increased in scale when I realized that I wanted people to enter the worlds or to see them almost like dioramas— these places that they could be immersed into, with their own social structures and their eco-systems.”

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