Michael Coppage brings ‘Black Box’ project to ArtCrawl Harlem

ArtCrawl Harlem is proud to present Michael Coppage’s “Black Box,” a captivating community impact and engagement project with the goal of making Black men and women, and their culture, more understood by a wider audience of cultures. 

One of Coppage’s main goals through his project is to replace the “learned” with genuine firsthand learning. The project includes flat two-dimensional images that serve as placeholders for “real” people. They are meant to foster healthy boundaries and real connection between participants and the viewers. Viewers’ goals should be to absorb the experience.

“Small incremental changes surrounding language can lead to huge transformative cultural shifts. Ultimately the goal is to demystify, understand and connect through discourse,” said Coppage. 

“Black Box” was inspired by the feeling of discomfort many Black people feel in a non-black space. It is meant to juxtapose that feeling of discomfort and replace it with a stress-free experience that is both educational and interpersonal. 

The project eliminates microaggressions within the participant experience as there is no physical interaction, just images, videos and warm, therapeutic voices played via podcast.

“Black Box” programming will begin July 23 with an “Artist Talk with Michael Coppage” which will be facilitated by journalist Jewels Dodson. There will be 2 artist talks at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Programming continues on July 30 at 1 p.m. with “Safe Passage III,” a Short Film by Heather Williams.

“Sage Passage III” dives into the question “Is there safe passage for the black body?” To find this answer Willaims, quite literally, cracks spacetime into divulging paths. The viewer travels through water and tall grasses searching for the answer. Black ancestors witness the viewers travel into the past, present and future. That is until we reach the end, mother’s edge.

“I am a deep thinker. My work is intuitive which gives me a certain amount of freedom of expression. For every piece once completed, I sit and spend time living with it; finding the connections in the colors, texture, and the materiality of the work. As an artist who leans toward the introverted side, my work is my way of pushing myself into the world as an example for others like me.” said Willaims. “Furthermore, Black women are not always afforded the luxury of having quiet as part of our social identity but quiet is also one of the many parts of who we are in the world.  As such my work is a love letter to the quiet yet powerful woman. All of my work contains a level of spirituality that reaches back to my African ancestral roots.”

The project will be open from July 23 – Aug. 21. It is located on 406b Colonels Row, Governors Island, Manhattan.