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Middle School: Black Magic (It’s Fantastic) by André Leon Gray (Art Card)

André Leon Gray (American, born 1969), Black Magic (It’s Fantastic), 2005, acrylic, rhinestones, basketball, braided synthetic hair, street sweeper brush, shoelaces, headband, miniature clay pots, wood, and cowrie shells on wood ironing board

See the slide version of this card:

About the Artist

Andre Leon Gray is from Raleigh, North Carolina. He uses everyday objects such as toys and household items to create art that explores the lived experiences of Black people.


About the Art

Black Magic (It’s Fantastic) honors a historic event—the first racially-integrated college basketball game in the South, which was played in secret in order to not break the segregation laws in place in 1944. The game was played at what is now North Carolina Central University between the North Carolina College for Negroes and a squad from the Duke School of Medicine. The “Secret Game” became a catalyst for the integration of professional sports, or the “Black Magic” era. The artist uses objects such as headbands and cowrie shells as metaphors to tell the story and start a conversation about history.


Look Closely

  • Name the objects that you see in this work of art. Which objects are familiar to you and which are not?
  • What does this work of art remind you of?



  • Gray references a historic event of collaboration and mutual respect during segregation. Why do you think the “Secret Game” between two teams of different races was considered by many to be a magical event in history?
  • This work is called Black Magic (It’s Fantastic). How does this work of art represent something magical or powerful?



Art and artists have the power to highlight and celebrate people, places, and events that might get overlooked. How does Andre Leon Gray do this in Black Magic? What is something that has happened in history that people may not know about that you think should be celebrated?


Más información

Visit the “Learn More” sidebar to find more information about the work of art and artist and find other works of art that relate to the subject matter, media, and techniques used by the artist. Read this article to learn about the historic game that inspired this work.