Black City: the Arkansas Edition

2022 Fay Chandler Creativity Grant

Installation view of Totem House by studioSUMO, Crystal Bridges Museum, 2022. Image credit: Ironside Photography.
Installation view of Totem House by studioSUMO, Crystal Bridges Museum, 2022. Image credit: Ironside Photography.
Space|Scale diagram. Credit: studioSUMO and Sierra Taylor.
Timeline graphics for panels of Totem House. Image credit: J. Yolande Daniels and Ashley Nicole Feyes.
Component House affordable house prototype. Image credit: studioSUMO and Kyle Kalmar.

Giving presence to absent histories


In her design research Histories of Negation, J. Yolande Daniels explores both the common and unique aspects of the spatial dynamics of race and place in American cities, recounting the removal of Indigenous nations and African American communities from locations across the United States.

Black City: The Arkansas Edition, the latest chapter in Histories of Negation, represents significant events and movements in Northwest Arkansas between 1750 and 2020. The project was commissioned by the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, for its exhibition Architecture at Home. The work was shaped by the museum’s location, which sits at the nexus of three historic trails: the Trail of Tears which marks the expulsion and deaths of Indigenous peoples, the Civil War and contraband trail of enslaved African American refugees drawn to the front by the prospect of freedom, and the trail of forced removals of African American communities that grew in the wake of emancipation. 

The imperative of this work is to explore the relationships between social and spatial practices and the ways to give presence to absent histories.


Upcoming Exhibitions

Black City: The Arkansas Edition
Website under construction

The Black City: De Facto & De Jure Restrictive Topographies
By J. Yolande Daniels
Opens October 21, 2022
MIT Keller Gallery and adjacent corridor
MIT Building 7, 4th floor
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

Totem House, presented in the Architecture at Home Exhibition
By studioSUMO
Opens July 9, 2022
Crystal Bridges Museum
600 Museum Way, Bentonville, Arkansas


J. Yolande Daniels, associate professor of architecture at MIT, is a co-founding design principal of studioSUMO in New York and the founder of studioSUMO West in Los Angeles. Her independent design research explores the spatial effects of race and gender in the built environment, focusing on revealing narratives of resistance and autonomy. In particular, Daniels’ work takes as a focus documenting and representing spaces that have been rendered adjunct to, yet supplement and maintain, dominant spatial and political systems of power.

Biography: MIT Architecture Department


Black City: The Arkansas Edition

Research and Exhibition Design
J. Yolande Daniels

Black City: The Arkansas Edition is supported by a Fay Chandler Grant from the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology and with funding from the MIT School of Architecture + Planning.

Totem House

studioSUMO Design Team
Sunil R. Bald and J. Yolande Daniels, partners
Erik August Bakken
Ashley Nicole Feyes
Meaghan Sarah Kelly
Kyle Joseph Kalmar
Sierra Taylor

Totem Structure Fabrication
Nicholas Paschal Construction LLC

MIT Panel Fabrication Team
Ian Erickson
Adam Fertig
Nare Filiposyan
Qingyi Duanmu
Emily Katrencik
Stephanie Li
Noa Maori
Benjamin Tasistro-Hart
Nicole Teichner
Emily Wissemann

Website Design Team
Doris Qingyi Duanmu, SMarchS ’23
Jensen A. Johnson, SMarchS ’23

Website Programming
Alexandros Haridis, PhD ’22

MIT Keller Exhibition Design Team
Ashley Simone, Curator
TBD, Curatorial Assistant

MIT Keller Exhibition Fabrication Team

MIT Keller Gallery Exhibition Team
Amanda Moore, Aidan Flynn, Nanase Shirokawa, Daisy Ziyan Zhang, and Jim Harrington

MIT Department of Architecture Lectures and Exhibitions Committee
Yolande Daniels, Huma Gupta, J. Jih, Amanda Moore, Aidan Flynn, Nanase Shirokawa, Daisy Ziyan Zhang

Architecture at Home is organized by Crystal Bridges and curated by Dylan Turk, special projects editor, architecture and design.