How African American Spirituals Moved From Cotton Fields to Concert Halls

After the Civil War, Touring Groups of Black College Singers Popularized Slavery-Era Songs, Giving Rise to a New Musical Genre

“Swing low, sweet chariot….” These words are familiar to many Americans, who might sing them in worship, in Sunday school, around campfires, in school, and in community choruses. But the black singers responsible for introducing this song, and hundreds of other slave spirituals, to white America after the Civil War remain underrecognized almost 150 years later.

Spirituals are sacred songs composed anonymously by black Americans. Before the Civil War they were sung in the privacy of black spaces—the brush arbor, the praise house, the cotton field, the levee. After the …

The Photographer in the Garden

How the Camera Conveys the Ways We Cultivate Nature

Gardens are the birthplace of some of our most enduring myths and creation stories. Many religions posit the idea of a lush, sacred place where humans once dwelt in harmony …

Mesmerized, Baffled, and Smitten by the Magic of Dance

A Veteran L.A. Dance Critic Reflects on Her Passion for the Art Form

My career as a dance critic really began when I was six years old, though I didn’t know it. My mom signed me up to take a creative movement class …

The Play I Had to Write About the Murder That Haunted Me

To Forget Is to Remain Trapped in Purgatory, but Reimagining Horror Can Bring Catharsis

Mary Turner.

That name is forever etched into my memory … into my existence, as an artist, a writer, a woman, a mother, a human being.

On May 19, 1918, …

What Saudi Arabia’s Vibrant Art Scene Says About Its Internal Struggles

Artists Are Using Ambiguity to Probe the Fault Line Between Modernity and Conservative Islam

When I first saw Ajlan Gharem’s video, “Paradise Has Many Gates,” at an art studio in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I was amazed.

It opens with a small single-story structure made …