Uri McMillan receives Warhol Foundation grant for book on influential 1970s artists

Published: February 8, 2024
Portrait of Uri McMillanUri McMillan (Photo: Tony Rinaldo)

Sean Brenner | February 8, 2024

Uri McMillan, a UCLA professor of English and African American studies, has received a $50,000 grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation to support work on his forthcoming book.

“The Seventies in Color” will focus on three trendsetting New York City artists of the 1970s — fashion designer Stephen Burrows, musician-actor-model Grace Jones and fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez — to demonstrate the influence of Black and Brown creative labor across multiple fields.

McMillan said the book will advance an alternative view of the culture-defining New York arts scene of that era.

“The standard narrative around New York in the 1970s is that cheap rents encouraged artists to move in and create amidst widespread crime and social unrest,” he said. “However, the stubborn focus on figures like Andy Warhol and Halston, and places like Studio 54, has occluded attention to artists of color who are treated as ancillary figures when they were making impactful contributions to commercial and creative industries, mainly through the apparatus of style.”

McMillan began working on the project during the summer of 2020, just months into the COVID-19 outbreak. “Ironically,” he said, “the isolation forced by the pandemic facilitated thinking about the theme of ‘working together’ that stretches across the book.”

“The Seventies in Color” is scheduled to be published by Duke University Press in late 2025.

McMillan is currently teaching two graduate-level classes: an English course on interdisciplinary American studies and a gender studies course on queer and feminist theory.

The Warhol Foundation’s Arts Writers Grants promote critical writing about the visual arts; awards support books, articles and short-form writing. McMillan was one of 27 writers to be honored in the 2023 award cycle.

He is UCLA’s second honoree in as many years: Gender studies professor Joshua Javier Guzmán, chair of UCLA’s LGBTQ Studies program, received a grant in the 2022 cycle.