Pop Quiz
Tonge ’12
Cultural Curator
Michael Tonge Portrait Image
Photo: Keith Scott
Tonge, the son of two artists, started The Culture LP at Bucknell, where he majored in sociology and minored in gender & women’s studies. What began as a blog is now a content and events platform that elevates and supports Black art and creativity and is a consultancy for brands and organizations. In recent months, it organized art shows and held a yoga meetup to honor Juneteenth. Tonge is also a strategy director for the creative agency Giant Spoon.
Who is your favorite contemporary African American artist?
a. Kehinde Wiley
b. Kara Walker
c. Kerry James Marshall
I’ve gone to exhibitions of his work at both the High Museum in Atlanta and the Met Breuer in New York.
Which thriving cultural scene from the past do you most wish you could go back and experience?
a. Harlem Renaissance
b. The founding years of the Nuyorican Poets Café
c. 1920s Paris
So many of the artists that I love today are inspired by the people who were doing their work during the Harlem Renaissance. It’s almost like a chance to kick it with the ancestors. And with everything going on now, there’s a real connection — they were combating a lot of the same issues. I wonder what it would be like to talk to activists from that time period.
If you could organize a dream event, what would it be?
a. World’s largest pop-up meditation gathering
b. The Met Gala
c. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Meditation helped me a lot after my father died, and I’d like to bring something that’s been integral to my own growth and healing to as many people as possible. One of my favorite events when I worked at the Brooklyn Museum was a sound bath with HealHaus, a Black-owned holistic wellness studio. And we’ve been incorporating meditation into the Culture LP’s online Zoom conversations.
4. In a world with unlimited time, what would be your dream side project?
a. Founding an art gallery
b. Launching a meditation and therapy app
c. Creating an artists’ retreat for Black writers and artists
A retreat would be dope. Actually, I’ve been thinking about doing something like that quite a bit.
What is your favorite kind of art?
a. Photography
b. Painting
c. Installation
Out of those, I’ll say painting, but I really like mixed media and collage — when people have a diverse set of mediums.
Who was your most influential Bucknell professor?
There was really a trifecta: sociology professors Linden Lewis and Alexander Riley, and history professor Leslie Patrick (who went by LP). They had a really authentic way of being clear about their opinions but also teaching you how to interrogate and be critical and form your own opinions based on the information available.