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Art&Seek on Think TV: 'The Black Architecture Project'

by Jerome Weeks 18 Feb 2011 12:50 PM

‘The Black Architecture Project,’ says its creator Darell Fields, is an exploration of what doesn’t exist – black architecture itself (he’s one of the very few African-American architects around). Art&Seek on Think TV talks with Fields about his current show at UT-D’s CentralTrak, about his father, one of the first black police officers in Dallas, about re-considering a South Dallas cemetery and why his own conceptual designs are so pristine.


Darell Fields is a graduate of UT-Arlington and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He’s also the son of one of the first black officers in the Dallas Police Department. That experience, he says, of watching his father contend with ‘crossing boundaries’ has helped inform his own boundary-crossing as a  black architect. Fields has taught at Northeastern University and Arizona State University, and his video work has been presented by the Whitney Museum in New York. But for the past 20 years or so, he has been contemplating the ideas and issues embedded in the notion of “black architecture,” a tradition he argues doesn’t exist (because there are so few African-American architects). So he’s trying to explore this “gap,” this “strange association.”

Fields created CentralTrak’s current show, The Black Architecture Project , which features a number of his conceptual designs, including a ‘home’ for Josephine Baker and a re-imagination of a segregated South Dallas cemetery. We talk to Fields about the portfolio his father carried (below) of only African-American suspects (he wasn’t permitted to arrest whites, and had to wait for dispatch to send a white officer). We talk about re-considering neighborhood maps, how architectural forms could be “black” and why his own designs are so pristine.