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Sur Rodney (Sur) fonds
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Correspondence with fellow artists

The subseries illustrates the North-American and more precisely the New York East Village art scene around Sur Rodney (Sur) from the 1970s to 2009. It gives an insight in the life of various artists by the means of personal correspondence exchanged with Sur Rodney (Sur). The sub-series includes a scrap-book containing letters, photographs and drawings send to Sur Rodney (Sur) by artist Pauline Graham Leathem. The sub-series includes as well extensive correspondence with Ronald Heydon, photographer John Brill and artist Lorraine O'Grady. It also contains correspondence with artists Jordan Arseneault, Ann Fensterstock, Arnaud Gosselin, Angel Borrero, Carlo Pittore, Elspeth Duncan, Phyllis Wright, Al Hansen, Ruth Kligman, Adrian Piper, Ray Johnson, and others. Some of these artists were active, like Sur Rodney (Sur), with Visual Aids, an organization working on AIDS awareness through art projects, while supporting artists living with AIDS and archiving their work.

The subseries consists of, but is not limited to, correspondence, newspaper clippings, drafts, and a scrapbook.

Sur Rodney (Sur) fonds

  • P234
  • Fonds
  • [ca. 1900]-2019, predominantly 1974-2019

The Sur Rodney (Sur) fonds gives an insight into the life and career of Sur Rodney (Sur), from his childhood in Montreal until today. It informs about his family background and early life as part of Montreal’s black community during the 1950s and 1960s. The fonds illustrates Sur Rodney’s work as an artist and activist, and it presents the North-American and more precisely the New York East Village art scene around Sur Rodney (Sur) from the 1960s to 2018, by the means of personal correspondence exchanged with Sur Rodney (Sur), exhibition catalogues, and documents related to The Sur Rodney (Sur) Show (1980) and the All New Sur Rodney (Sur) Show (1981). It also contains information about the AIDS crisis, the organization Visual Aids and Sur Rodney’s implication within this context.

The fonds is organized into the following series:

P0234/A The Adams family and Sur Rodney (Sur)’s personal life
P0234/B The Artist Sur Rodney (Sur) and fellow artists

The fonds includes, but is not limited to, photographs, art works, scrap-books, posters, speaking notes, correspondence, programs, flyers, newspaper clippings, ephemera, publications with contributions by Sur Rodney (Sur), moving images and sound recordings.

Sur Rodney (Sur)

Sur Rodney (Sur)’s talks, presentations and writings

The subseries illustrates Sur Rodney (Sur)’s career as an artist and his involvement in the art scene, from the beginning of his career in the 1960s to today. It documents Sur Rodney (Sur)’s various actions and implications not only as an artist, but also as spokesperson for artists from marginalized groups and especially those living with HIV/AIDS.
The subseries includes material on various of Sur Rodney’s projects, such as, among others, the video production The Scary truth About Cockroaches & Landlords, various exhibitions, Sur Rodney (Sur)’s contributions to numerous publications, his participation in various panels and talks, especially his presentation at the CCA Panel : Art Minus Hype : American Art in the 1980’s (1997), and the television shows Sur Rodney (Sur) Show (1980) and All New Sur Rodney (Sur) Show (1981), both moderated by Sur Rodney (Sur). In these shows Sur Rodney (Sur) presented artists from the Manhattan's Lower East Side art scene.
The subseries also includes interviews with Sur Rodney (Sur).

The subseries contains, but is not limited to, scripts, notebooks, calendars, a scrapbook, photographs, flyers, newspaper articles, magazines and other publications, moving images, a press kit, posters, and a sound recording.

The Adams family and Sur Rodney (Sur)’s personal life

The series documents Sur Rodney (Sur)’s childhood in Montreal and his family background, illustrating the life of a black family in Montreal in the second half of the 20th century. Most of the documents have been collected by Jean [Gertrude Peters] Gordon.
The series contains correspondence between Sur Rodney (Sur) and his parents, Desmond Adams and Jean Adams, and documents related to family members, namely Desmond Rupert Adams, Sur Rodney (Sur)’s grandmother Hazel Irene Pierce, and Rodney’s brother David Adams. Several photo albums illustrate Sur Rodney’s childhood and his larger family. This series also contains documents related to the Negro Community Centre (NCC) and Union United Church, which both were frequented by family members, as well as Expo 67 and the Watchtower Society. Furthermore, the series informs about Sur Rodney (Sur)’s name change and his marriage to Geoffrey Hendricks.

The series includes, but is not limited to, correspondence, photographs, leaflets, programs, flyers, forms, diploma, passports and other pieces of identification, artwork, postcards, brochures, newspaper clippings, a scrapbook and an autograph book.

The Artist Sur Rodney (Sur) and fellow artists

The series illustrates the North-American and more precisely the New York East Village art scene around Sur Rodney (Sur) from the 1960s to 2018. It depicts Sur Rodney (Sur)’s career as an artist, his involvement in the art scene and his relation to fellow artists. It gives an insight in the life of various artists by the means of personal correspondence exchanged with Sur Rodney (Sur), exhibition catalogues, and documents related to The Sur Rodney (Sur) Show (1980) and the All New Sur Rodney (Sur) Show (1981), which were both presenting artists from the Manhattan's Lower East Side art scene. Artists mentioned in the series are, among others, Andreas Senser, Gracie Mansion, Geoffrey Hendricks, Pauline Graham Leathem, Ronald Heydon, Nan Goldin, John Brill and Lorraine O'Grady. The series covers subjects like Black Contemporary Art, Performance art, and Queer Art. It also refers to Visual Aids, an organization working on AIDS awareness through art projects, while supporting artists living with AIDS and archiving their work.

The series is organized into the following sub-series:
P0234/ B1 Sur Rodney (Sur)’s talks, presentations and writings
P0234/ B2 Works of fellow artists
P0234/ B3 Correspondence with fellow artists

The series contains, but is not limited to, correspondence, newspaper articles, drafts, scrapbooks, exhibition catalogs, magazines and other publications, posters, notebooks, calendars, photographs, flyers, moving images, a press kit, a sound recording, and an Acker Awards box.

Works of fellow artists

The subseries illustrates the art scene around Sur Rodney (Sur), focussing especially on artists from the New York East Village, but including some international artists as well. It gives an insight in the artistic career of various artists, as there are, among others, Andreas Senser, Gracie Mansion, Geoffrey Hendricks, and photographer Timothy Greathouse. The sub-series covers subjects like Black Contemporary Art, performance art, Queer Art, and the problematic of Aids. The sub-series includes the documentary "I'll be your Mirror", screened at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian film festival and featuring photographer Nan Goldin and the lower east side of Manhattan during the 1980s and HIV/AIDS. It also includes an Acker Award box from 2014, containing original art works and mementos contributed by the awardees.

The subseries consists of, but is not limited to, newspaper articles, exhibition catalogs, magazines, and other publications, correspondence, a poster, and an Acker Awards box.