BGX TALKS | FEATURED SPEAKER – Kamau Ware
Kamau Ware is an award-winning multidimensional creative blending complementary yet disparate disciplines as an Artist / Historian. Ware retells and expands history with scholarship and visual storytelling to fuse creativity and learning into one experience. He is best known for his flagship storytelling project, Black Gotham Experience (BGX), which is an immersive multimedia project founded in 2010 that celebrates the impact of the African Diaspora through a series of historic walks, talks, photography-based graphic novels, and events.
Ware has been featured in the New York Observer, The Atlantic, and The New York Times; and has made appearances on NBC New York, ABC New York, and The Huffington Post Live to share this unique understanding of the African Diaspora’s presence in New York City. Ware has also received prominent commissions, one of which was a public art project in New York City’s Financial District just one block from Wall Street located on Water Street and Gouverneur Lane for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the first Black history tour of New York City Hall commissioned by the New York Public Design Commission, A Walk Through Time for The Mile-Long Opera, and the Others Built New York mural that combined the voices of four artists to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of Stonewall and the essential role that the “others” have made in making New York City a vibrant cultural hub.
Kamau Ware has become a sought-after voice to fill the visual abyss of Black New York history, illustrating powerful stories that exist outside of public consciousness. Recent engagements include talks at New York University’s Black Portraiture[s] conference, the Amsterdam City Archives, Paramount Pictures Creative Speakers Series, the American Folk Art Museum, The Public Theatre’s Democracy Festival, and SXSW. Next spring (2020), Kamau returns to The New School as a visiting professor, co-teaching a course titled “Blind Spots: A Walk Through New York City’s Black Past”. In 2018, Ware completed a speaking tour titled Origin Stories, including stops at Yale University, Lincoln’s Cottage, the African American Museum of Philadelphia, and a keynote for the California Library Association.
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“Kamau Ware is a brilliant storyteller and historian. Through his dynamic and engaging presentation of Origin Stories to our company, we became a more informed and enlightened group of individuals. We gained new perspectives and appreciation on the impact of African Diaspora and how Black Gotham changed the course of history in New York. The feedback from our team members on Origin Stories was so positive and overwhelming, that we will invite people outside of our company to attend Kamau’s next live session with us. Our mission is to become a more diverse and inclusive organization, and we felt that what Kamau teaches us is just too important and powerful not to share.”
Nick Friese, Founder & CEO, Digiday Media
“Kamau’s virtual exploration of the lives of 18th Century Black New Yorkers was brilliant. Students were able to see how the legal and social structures that shaped pre-revolutionary New York — race, class, politics, and privilege — continue to affect our lives today. I cannot recommend highly enough!”
Scott Levy, Instructor, School of The New York Times
“We first engaged with Kamau Ware at an artist reception in 2019. We enjoyed hosting Kamau so much that we organized one of his walks (Sarah’s Fire) for a summer associate event – it was our best rated event of the entire summer. Kamau’s ability to blend history, culture, art is incredible; he uses his vast knowledge to tell narratives that are so compelling it’s hard to not be engaged and to not take away a lot of knowledge. His stories give voice to a vast Black diaspora’s history that is too often untold and he presents in a way that is interactive and that embeds those stories within the historical context giving them life and visibility.”
Peter J. Davis, Diversity & HR Projects Specialist, Allen & Overy LLP