• The Black Schoolhouse Manual
    Joseph Cuillier and Shani Peters
    Paper Machine, 2023
    The Black School

Joseph Cuillier and Shani Peters, preliminary sketches for the initial The Black Schoolhouse design, 2019

The Black Schoolhouse Manual takes inspiration from the history of the Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald Schools and interwoven histories with Black education in America. To expand on and contribute to the legacy of Black community-built schools, this project explores how container architecture can serve as a current day blueprint for independent school building, in collaboration with container architecture experts LOT-EK. Also, with the partnership of New Orleans-based Bryan C. Lee of Colloqate Design and Whawn Allen of WAACC, and local historians, the project explores New Orleans as a context for recreating ”The Negro Rural School and Its Relation to the Community” with the social, political, architectural, and ecological considerations of today. The new manual combines historical research on Rosenwald Schools with contemporary research on social housing, low cost architecture, and Black radical pedagogy. This research is paired with architectural drawings and building instructions commissioned by architect(s) and construction partners.

Joseph Cuillier is a multidisciplinary artist who examines language, space, abstraction, and Black radical pedagogies through social practice, installation, textile, and design. His practice at the intersections of education, visual art, and design centers on deconstructing histories to build counter narratives. Currently based in Harlem, where he achieved an master’s from Pratt Institute and is a faculty member at Parsons and Pratt. Cuillier's work has been exhibited, collected, and presented internationally at New Museum, The Museum of Modern Art’s library, the Bauhaus Dessau, the Bronx Museum of Art, Wallach Gallery at Columbia University, the Schafler Gallery at Pratt Institute, among others. Cuillier has been an artist-in-residence/fellow at Sweet Water Foundation via the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Ideas City NOLA, Antenna, New Museum, The Laundromat Project, and A Blade of Grass. Cuillier is the founder and codirector of The Black School and Black Love Fest (NYC and HTX).

Shani Peters is a multidisciplinary artist based in New York. She holds a bachelor’s from Michigan State University and an master’s of fine arts from the City College of New York. Peters has presented work in the US and abroad at the New Museum, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Seoul Art Space Geumcheon South Korea; the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, the Bauhaus Dessau. Selected residencies include those hosted by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, The Laundromat Project (NY), and Project Row Houses (TX). Her work has been supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Rauschenberg Foundation, Rema Hort Mann Foundation, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Peters is a faculty member at CCNY, Pratt Institute, and Parsons. She is a codirector of The Black School, the artist initiated experimental art school that has led 100+ workshops since 2016.

LOT-EK is an award-winning architectural design studio based in New York and Naples, Italy. Founded in 1993 by Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano, LOT-EK has been involved with commercial, institutional and residential projects globally. In addition, LOT-EK has conceived and executed exhibition design and site-specific installations for major cultural institutions and museums, including The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Walker Art Center and the Guggenheim. LOT-EK has achieved high visibility for its sustainable and innovative approach to construction, materials and space, through the adaptive reuse (“upcycling”) of existing industrial objects and systems not originally intended for architecture.

Whawn Allen Architects and Construction Consultants is a New Orleans born and based, Black woman owned and operated architecture and construction firm that provides both residential and commercial services. Allen’s breadth of expertise and years of experience navigating the regionally specific aspects of New Orleans building projects make her an invaluable asset to this project.

Bryan C. Lee Jr. is an architect, educator, writer, and design justice activist. He is the founder/design principal of Colloqate Design, a nonprofit multidisciplinary design practice in New Orleans, dedicated to expanding community access to design and creating spaces of racial, social, and cultural equity. He has led two award-winning youth design programs nationwide and is one of the founding coorganizer of the DAP (Design As Protest) Collective. He was noted as one of the 2018 Fast Company Most Creative People in Business, a USC Annenberg MacArthur Civic Media Fellow, and the youngest design firm to win the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices award in 2019.

Based on the commitment to community building and our core principles of Black love, wellness, and self-determination, The Black School’s mission is to promote and extend the legacy of art in Black radical histories by providing innovative education alternatives centered in Black love. Through youth art workshops, community wide events/programing, and our student staffed art and design studio, we use art to transform social realities while celebrating Black people's history and the beauty and ingenuity of our ever-evolving culture. The Black School was founded in 2015.