The seed for Black Dimensions in Art, Inc. (BDA) was planted in 1972 in Black Arts, Inc. (BAI), a grassroots organization in Albany, New York. BAI, directed by noted Albany author Mars Hill, produced the Black Arts Festival to celebrate and showcase visual and performing arts. BAI’s Visual Arts Committee, chaired by renowned Schenectady artist Margaret Cunningham, provided the context from which BDA eventually emerged.
Encouraged by BAI founding members Cunningham and John Carter, the committee formed Black Dimensions in Art, and in 1975, the group was incorporated as a volunteer non-profit organization. BDA ‘s mission: to educate the public about the unique contributions of artists of the African Diaspora within the American art scene through exhibitions, publications, television, and other media; to provide exposure and sales opportunities for artists of African descent; and to encourage youth of African descent in the practice, application, and appreciation of the arts. The first major exhibition organized by BDA was “Black Artists in Historical Perspective I” at the Albany Institute of History and Art in celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial.
Forty years later, BDA continues in the tradition of its founding members with a board composed of artists and art enthusiasts from the Capital Region. Today, BDA not only reaches the Capital Region, but is represented nationally and internationally. BDA continues to mount major exhibitions annually. Exhibitions have been at such venues as the formerly named Schenectady Museum, Albany International Airport, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, New York State Museum, Capital Repertory Theatre, Wellington Herbs and Spices, Arts Center of the Capital Region and the African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region, Inc. Exhibitions are researched and organized by BDA’s Board of Directors. BDA also supports an important aspect of its mission through its Emerging Artists and Summer Youth Arts programs. In these programs youth work together with professional artists/mentors in the development of their artistic skills.