Architect, Urban Designer, and Author Sekou Cooke Brings Hip-Hop Architecture to the Everson
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.
The Everson Asks Syracuse To Share Their Images
The Everson is asking the Syracuse community to share their own images and documents that tell the story of the 15th Ward in Syracuse, New York.
The images will be publicly archived and displayed online as part of the exhibition at everson.org/15-81. Images and documents can be submitted to [email protected] with the community member’s name and brief description of the material.
About the Artist
Sekou Cooke is an architect, urban designer, researcher, and curator. Born in Jamaica and based in Charlotte, North Carolina, he is the Director of the Master of Urban Design program at UNC Charlotte, the 2021/2022 Nasir Jones HipHop Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, and a founding member of the Black Reconstruction Collective. Cooke is a leading advocate for the study and practice of Hip-Hop Architecture, which addresses the broad impacts of the racist history of architecture and urban planning, opening a pathway for practice, education, and scholarship that embraces architecture as a tool for shaping, reflecting, and understanding culture.
Sekou holds a B.Arch from Cornell University, an M.Arch from Harvard University, and is licensed to practice architecture in New York and North Carolina.
About the Everson Museum of Art
The Everson is a museum of firsts. It was the first museum to dedicate itself to the collection of American art, to create a permanent collection of ceramics, to collect video art, to create a docent program and to hire the now internationally-known architect I.M. Pei to design its building, a sculptural work of art in its own right. Located in Syracuse, NY, the Everson is home to over 10,000 works of art: American paintings, sculpture, drawings, video, graphics and one of the largest holdings of studio ceramics in the nation. Visit everson.org to learn more.
For further information or to request images, members of the media may contact Kristin Sheehan, e: [email protected], t: +1 (315) 474 6064 x323.
Sekou Cooke, We Outcha: Hip-Hop Fabrications and Public Space, 2021, Digital print and screenprint on paper, 25 x 37 inches, Courtesy of the artist
Sekou Cooke, We Outcha: Hip-Hop Fabrications and Public Space, 2021, 9 digital and screenprints on paper, 13 x 13 inches each, Courtesy of the artist