Global Arts Advisory Council
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center Global Arts Advisory Council is comprised of artistic trailblazers who have excelled in their practice and are committed to supporting arts and culture. In addition to their support, GAAC provides professional insights, connections to the world-wide artistic community, and represent a standard of excellence that we embrace and provide to all our visitors and patrons.
Purpose of Global Arts Advisory Council
- To raise the visibility of August Wilson African American Cultural Center in the national and international arts community
- To embrace the AWAACC as a pillar institution in the global celebration of the African Diaspora
- To provide agency and prestige to the AWAACC mission
A 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient and 2015 City Center choreographer in residence, Kyle Abraham is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow. Previous awards include being named a 2012 USA Ford Fellow, a Creative Capital grantee, and receiving a 2012 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. In 2010, Abraham received a prestigious Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance in Dance. In 2011, OUT Magazine labeled Abraham as the “best and brightest creative talent to emerge in New York City in the age of Obama. Abraham’s practice entwines a sensual and provocative vocabulary with a strong emphasis on sound, human behavior and all things visual to create an avenue for personal investigation.
An actor, humanitarian, and the acknowledged “King of Calypso,” Harry Belafonte is one of the most successful and seminal African-American pop stars in history. Belafonte’s staggering talent, good looks, and masterful assimilation of folk, jazz, and world beat rhythms allowed him to achieve a level of mainstream eminence and crossover popularity virtually unparalleled in the days before the advent of the civil rights movement — a cultural uprising which he himself helped spearhead. Belafonte was the first African American to win an Emmy Award, to be a television producer and have a mainstream production company where he produced the film noir, “Odds Against Tomorrow.” He was also the progenitor of the Ethiopian famine relief project, “We Are The World,” which raised millions of dollars for that famine ravished country. He is also the recipient of Kennedy Center Honors in 1989, the National Medal of Arts in 1994 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Additionally, in 2014 he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
LaToya Ruby Frazier received her BFA in applied media arts from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (2004) and her MFA in art photography from Syracuse University (2007). She also studied under the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (2010–2011). Frazier works in photography, video and performance to build visual archives that address industrialism, rustbelt revitalization, environmental justice, healthcare inequity, family and communal history. Frazier’s work is exhibited widely with notable solo exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum; Seattle Art Museum; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute (2017) fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s MacArthur Fellows Program (2015), and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2014). Her work can be found in public and private art collections such as Museum of Modern Art; Brooklyn Museum; Seattle Art Museum; Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh; Centre National Des Arts Plastiques, France.
Vanessa German is an American sculptor, painter, writer, activist, performer, and poet based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her sculpture often includes assembled statues of female figures created with their heads/ faces painted black and a wide range of attached objects flowing outward including fabric, keys, found objects, and toy weapons. Her work is held in numerous permanent collections including the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Her art has been featured in a wide range of galleries, museums and traveling exhibits, including the 2012 “African American Art 1950-Present” touring exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution. She was a 2015 recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Grant.
Three-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is one of the greatest artists in international music today. Time Magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva”. The BBC has included her in its list of the continents 50 most iconic figures, and in 2011, The Guardian listed her as one of their Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World. Forbes has ranked Angelique as the first woman in their list of the Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa. She is the recent recipient of the prestigious 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and the 2016 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award. Kidjo also travels the world advocating on behalf of children in her capacity as a UNICEF and OXFAM goodwill Ambassador. She created her own charitable foundation, Batonga, dedicated to support the education of young girls in Africa.
S. Epatha Merkerson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Wayne State University. Although best known since 1993 as the smart and shrewd Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on the long-running TV crime drama “Law & Order” (1990). She also starred in “Chicago Med” and will be in the upcoming Marvin Gaye bio pic, Sexual Healing. She has a long list of Broadway and off-Broadway credits and honors that include a Drama Desk Award and Tony Award nominations for Best Actress for her performance in the August Wilson play The Piano Lesson (1995), a 1992 Obie Award for her performance in I’m Not Stupid, and a 1998 Helen Hayes Award for her starring role in the Studio Theater production in Washington, DC, of the John Henry Redwood play The Old Settler. Her earliest regular role in television, however, was that of Reba the Mail Woman on “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” (1986).
Master Sculptor, Thad Mosley, is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and has been creating work for over 70 years. His solo and two-person exhibits include events at the Carnegie Museum of Art in 1968 and 1997; the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (PCA)’s Artist of the Year show in 1979; the Three Rivers Arts Festival with Selma Burke in 1990; and the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in 1995. His best-known sculptures in Pittsburgh are the 14-foot cedar Phoenix at the corner of Centre Avenue and Dinwiddie in the Hill District and the Mountaintop limestone at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in the Hill District at Herron and Milwaukee Streets. Mosley’s awards include the 1999 Governor’s Award for Artist of the Year in Pennsylvania Visual Arts, the PCA 2000 Cultural Award, and the PCA 2002 Service to the Arts Award and Exhibition.
Acclaimed singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson’s career spans over four decades of hits. He has received numerous awards including the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Doctorate (Howard University), Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts Award from the President of the United States. He has also been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. Throughout the 1960’s and early 70’s and Robinson became Vice President of Motown Records serving as in-house producer, talent scout and songwriter. During the course of his 50-year career in music, Robinson has accumulated more than 4,000 songs to his credit and continues to thrill sold-out audiences around the world with his high tenor voice, impeccable timing, and profound sense of lyric. Never resting on his laurels, Robinson remains a beloved icon in our musical heritage.
Constanza Romero Wilson is an award-winning costume designer. She was married to August Wilson until his untimely death in 2005. She was awarded the 1996 Drama Logue Award for Costume Design for Seven Guitars at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. She was awarded the 2003 Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Costume Design (Large Theatre) for Gem of the Ocean, at the Mark Taper Forum Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Romero Wilson lovingly manages the estate of August Wilson and is a solid partner in celebrating his legacy at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.