Derrais Carter

The Research Fellowship Programme: Derrais Carter


Derrais Carter is a teacher, writer, and artist based in Kansas City, KS. Currently, his art practice engages 1970s black cultural aesthetics, liquor, music, and sociality. In his project for the fellowship he is working on Black Revelry, a multimodal art project in honor of Ernie Barnes’ painting Sugar Shack (1971). The project is an ever-evolving slow dance that includes writers, visual artists, dancers, and a DJ. Sometimes the dance appears as a radio show. Other times it’s a printed text or a party.

Black Revelry Quiet Storm is a three-part radio show that explores different modes of storytelling, placing Carter himself in the role of the late-night DJ. The show takes its inspiration from the inherently nocturnal ‘Quiet Storm’ radio format that originated in the 1970s and featured songs about romance and intimacy from the genres of jazz, soul, and R&B. Black Revelry Quiet Storm is commissioned by If I Can’t Dance and is part of the broader Black Revelry project, which takes up the detail—or “the sample”—as a method for reading the iconic 1976 painting Sugar Shack by Ernie Barnes, a painting that has circulated widely within Black popular culture (for example, as the cover art for Marvin Gaye’s album I Want You) across over four decades. In so doing, Black Revelry enacts Black intimacy and maps an affective Black social life in the United States as it has been registered through the painting’s circulation.

Each show in the Black Revelry Quiet Storm series focuses on a key term: gathering (December 2020), dispersal (January 2021), and frequency (February 2021). Thematically, these key terms sets the stage for Carter’s close readings of Barnes’ painting, which unfold through song selections (jazz, soul, and R&B), commentary, and readings of Black critical theory.