• Story

    Let Your Art Be the Hero

    An alum pours his myriad talents and resources into a cultural enterprise.

    A former student at The New School’s Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, André Singleton is used to occupying multiple identities: dancer, performance artist, Missourian, Brazilian, gay man, activist, collaborator, intellectual — free spirit. His friends in and outside of the New School community describe him this way: “They say wherever I’ve been and whoever I am, I’m very.

    After years of long, intimate conversations at the kitchen table with roommate, friend, creative/business partner, and former New Schooler Justin Fulton, André homed in on a central part of his identity — that he is #VERYBLACK. Together with Justin, he created The Very Black Project.

    Like André, The Very Black Project is an unapologetic composite. It is a hashtag, start-up, Internet presence, merchandise vendor, African diasporic archive, and network of individuals celebrating all aspects of Black life. In following their diverse passions, André and his collective have created a new form of cultural enterprise. And for Very Black’s founders, this complexity, paired with critical inquiry, is key.

    André and Justin pooled their many talents and those of other great Black minds around them in the creation of the complex yet welcoming brand. “Because we collaborate, and because we put our art into our project, not caring about the bottom line, Very Black could never be just commerce,” says Singleton. He says of his time at The New School, “I was groomed to make people responsible for their words and actions.”

    André developed his appreciation and love of art while pursuing his BA in The Arts — Arts in Context: Culture and Media Studies and Dance at Eugene Lang College, which ultimately influenced his current entrepreneurial endeavors. “In a way, Very Black is a culmination of all of my favorite courses at Lang: Debates in Performance Studies, Hip-Hop Pedagogy, and Youth Activism.” His interdisciplinary approach to art making, and deep concern for artistic integrity, have made The Very Black Project a success.

    Biden

    In 2015, André and Justin were asked to both perform and host a tent at Afropunk Fest, where there was strong demand for Very Black T-shirts, buttons, totes, and other items. The two partners now send out up to 40 shipments a day, across both the nation and the globe. The Very Black collective have also performed and co-curated talks for Target Free First Saturdays (an evening of radical celebratory art making at the Brooklyn Museum) and the Schomburg Center in Harlem, and recently visited Vice President Joe Biden's residence in Washington, DC, where they were honored along with other Black-owned start-ups and small businesses.

    At The New School, where art is activism, we are an unapologetic force of diversity, collaboration, and entrepreneurship. Be a Force of New.

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