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Elementary: 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, Courtesy of the artist

See the slide version of this card:

About the Artist

André 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 the first racially-integrated college basketball game in the South, which was played in secret because it was in violation of segregation laws in place in 1944. The game was played at what is now North Carolina Central University. 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 ones are not?
  • What does this work of art remind you of?



  • Gray references a historic event 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 Gray do this in Black Magic? What is something in history that people may not know about that you think should be celebrated?


Learn More

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.