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The Long Road: Bill Traylor


Bill Traylor
Peg–Legged Man, c. 1939-42
Pencil, poster paint on found cardboard
11. 5 × 8 inches

Bill Traylor
Untitled (Black Male dog with red eye and tongue), n.d.
Pencil and poster paint on found cardboard
16 × 16. 5 inches

Bill Traylor
Untitled (Blue Man on Red Object), ca. 1939-1942
Poster paint and pencil on cardboard
11 3/4 × 7 3/4 inches
Courtesy High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, purchase with funds from Mrs. Lindsey Hopkins, Jr., Edith G. and Philip A. Rhodes and the Members Guild, 1982.93

Bill Traylor
Untitled (Exciting Event: House with Figures), c. 1939-1947
Poster paint and pencil on cardboard
13 1/2 × 13 7/8 inches
Courtesy High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, T. Marshall Hahn Collection, 1997.114
Photo by Mike Jensen

Bill Traylor
Untitled (Figures, Construction), c. 1940–1942
Poster paint and graphite on cardboard
12 5/8 × 11 5/8 inches
Courtesy Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, gift of Charles and Eugenia Shannon, 1982.4.16
Photo by Lyle Peterzell

Bill Traylor
Untitled (Man in Blue Pants), c. 1939-1947
Poster paint, pencil, colored pencil, and charcoal on cardboard
10 5/8 × 7 1/4 inches
Courtesy High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, T. Marshall Hahn Collection, 1997.115
Photo by Mike Jensen

For comparison, a Jim Crow caricature.

Bill Traylor
Untitled (Woman with Bird), c. 1940-1942
Poster paint and graphite on cardboard
13 1/4 × 7 3/8 inches
Courtesy Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, gift of Charles and Eugenia Shannon, 1982.4.07
Photo by Lyle Peterzell

The American Folk Art Museum’s exhibition on Bill Traylor, perhaps the most extensive to date and certainly the most in-depth consideration of his work in a New York museum, is the final justification of Traylor as a canonical self-taught artist.  It is also an emphatic validation for Charles Shannon, who “discovered” Traylor in 1939 and began archiving his work.  His persistent efforts to exhibit Traylor and garner appreciation for his work in cultural institutions are thoroughly discussed in the exhibition.  In this, the exhibition is nearly a double homage:  to the artist and to the preserver.

Bill Traylor:  Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts includes nearly all of both institutions’ Traylor holdings. It also maintains the organization of advocate, collector, and protector of Traylor’s work, Charles Shannon, who grouped drawings into categories such as:  “Animals,” “Exciting Events,” “Constructions” and so on.  Traylor used modest materials—usually using found cardboard as paper—to record events from his past as well as his observations of life in the Monroe Avenue area, where he sat every day to draw.  He often depicts dogs fighting, sometimes to the death and many of the “exciting events” have an aggressive, potentially violent, undertone.  For example, Traylor surrounds houses with a circular, frantic race—perhaps an attempted escape.  A similar circular composition is seen in Untitled (Exciting Event: House with Figures), in which a large man takes a hammer to birds on the roof while women react alongside him.  But this particular piece also holds some of the humor that at times parallels the forceful scenes:  Traylor illustrates one woman with what appears to be a bird’s mouth, apparently squawking at the man with the hammer and mimicking the birds which fall from the roof.

The Museum’s own Traylor in Motion:  Wonders from New York Collections highlights the pervasive element of kinesis within Traylor’s drawings.  The museum paints Traylor as a storyteller, bringing his works together to suggest a narrative of developing action for a cinematic effect.  Whether you would like to take the work as a whole or as individual parts, Traylor instills a trembling energy in each piece (but bringing a vein of anxiety alongside the balletic and graceful figures).  His subjects drink, dance and argue with enviable elasticity and strength.  Untitled (Man in Blue Pants) is a prime example of Traylor's abstracted figural compositions (and a personal favorite).  Perhaps Traylor imagined the Man in Blue Pants doing the Lindy Hop or the "cakewalk," a subversive plantation dance that mocked the grand marches of the slave owners through exaggerated movement.  In the same vein, this work reminds me of the Jim Crow caricatures prevalent during Traylor's time--or it reminds me of a rectified version of the mockery.

Artist biographies can help explain an oeuvre, but can also confuse and cloud the viewer's perception. Traylor (c.1854–1949) lived through most of the most turbulent periods of American history and the debates surrounding his biography can drastically shift interpretation of his work.  Born into slavery in 1854 in Lowndes County, Alabama, Traylor remained on the George Hartwell Traylor plantation through emancipation, the Civil War and World War I.  At the age of 85, he moved a few miles north to Montgomery, Alabama, where he remained for the rest of his life, living through World War II and dying in 1949, just as the civil rights movement was taking off.  It was shortly after his move that, by most accounts, Traylor began to draw, sitting on a wooden box on Monroe Street every day until 1942, when the gangrene in his leg worsened to the point that amputation was necessary.  Debates concerning his birth year, artistic career and possible homelessness run alongside stories of uncertain anecdotes, which certainly add fuel to the fire of the Traylor image, an image which has pervaded the dominating art historical narrative for decades: a lone artistic genius with a troubled life, whose work was underappreciated for far too long. Thankfully, we are now at the point where the road of the lone genius and public appreciation merge.

Bill Traylor:  Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and Traylor in Motion:  Wonders from New York Collections are on exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum through September 22, 2013.

Martha Scott Burton was a Summer 2013 Curatorial Intern at The Studio Museum in Harlem.

In Conversation Jocelyn Cooper of AFROPUNK


Jocelyn Cooper

Jocelyn Cooper, a music industry veteran who has worked with such artists as Beyoncé and Sean Garrett, collaborates with Matthew Morgan (former music manager of Santigold), to run AFROPUNK. Showcasing black musicians making alternative, experimental and underground music and hosting numerous events throughout the year, the production company throws the acclaimed AFROPUNK FEST every summer in Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, NY. On August 24 and 25, it held its ninth installment, featuring such celebrated acts as Grammy winners Living Colour, Chuck D of Public Enemy, and the seminal Detroit proto-punk band Death, as well as a diverse group of emerging performers such as Big Freedia, Mykki Blanco and The Skins.

At the penultimate installment of Uptown Fridays, the Studio Museum’s summer party series, AFROPUNK screened its short film The Triptych, the first in a series profiling Black visual artists, featuring Wangechi Mutu, Sanford Biggers and Barron Claiborne.

I recently sat down with Cooper to discuss her path to AFROPUNK, the ways in which artists shift culture and how the making of The Triptych came about.

So you started as an assistant at a recording studio. From there, where did you go?
In 1988, I moved into music publishing at Warner/Chappell, one of the largest music publishing companies in the world. I was what was known as a “song plugger.”—essentially someone that comes in, sits with A&R, or artists and repertoire, people and pitches songs to them. I would bring a song to industry exec Clive Davis, we would listen to it, and then play it for an artist or producer. That’s an old fashioned way that people made records, and I was really good at it.

From there where did you go?
I started signing writers to Warner/Chappell. In 1993, I was offered a joint venture deal to start my own music company called Midnight Music, which is where I signed D’Angelo. I worked there for four years.

You eventually ended up at Universal Music. How did that come about?
In 1998, Doug Morris, who is a music executive who now runs Sony, was going over to Universal and asked me to work with him. I ran the A&R department there for ten years. Instead of being the one that was plugging songs, I became the person listening to the songs for artists and signing them. I worked with a roster of about 125 musicians. Then I left and took a break. Afterwards, I worked with L.A. Reid, the current chairman and CEO of Epic Records, for a couple of years running his music publishing company Hitco.Then, in 2007 I met Matthew and started working at AFROPUNK.

What drew you to AFROPUNK?
Throughout my career I loved working with artists that were shifting culture. You look at someone like D’Angelo who was, at the time, king of Neo-soul. But when I signed him, Neo-soul as a genre didn't exist—he was the first. Then came Maxwell and Erykah Badu , Anthony Hamilton, India.Arie, Chrisette Michele, they are all considered Neo-soul. But D’Angelo was the first I later worked with Cash Money and helped usher in the whole Southern hip-hop movement Today,artists like Drake and Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne are popular.

But Nicki Minaj and Drake aren’t Southern rappers, per se.
But their sound comes from Southern rap. It really started with a label called Suave House out of Texas, with rappers like Master P and Mannie Fresh—but none of it really crossed over onto radio until Cash Money Records. It opened up a world of music that’s still on the radio now. And because I’d been a part of those musical movements, when I met Matthew, I knew in my bones that AFROPUNK was the same kind of thing. I wanted to be a part of it in some way.

So how did the making of The Triptych come about?
The making of The Triptych started with Barron Claiborne. When we thought to make the film, he was the photographer for The New York Times Magazine and had this illustrative career of photographing all these amazing, iconic images. When we started filming him, we found that while the art made by black artists was featured at certain cultural institutions, and there were resources that talked about their work, there was less about who they were separate from their work. The film evolved from a longing to know who these people were, particularly as individuals that shift culture and address culture in a political way.

So how do you think the artists featured speak to the AFROPUNK movement?
The AFROPUNK movement is about being an individual, being smart, being creative and bringing about change. These artists fit under this umbrella.  I think of not only Wangechi, Sanford, and Barron, but the artists we continue to shoot for the series. They are the bravest of all the people I know that are creating art for the current moment.

How many films or episodes do you foresee in the series? What artists do you want to work with?
We’ve got 50 artists that we want to profile, which is a very lofty goal. We’re thinking Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, Nick Cave. The list goes on and on.

For this year’s festival, AFROPUNK produced a number of new T-shirts, including three with respective designs by Wangechi Mutu, Sanford Biggers, and Barron Claiborne. You can find them here.

Justin Allen is the Fall 2013 Public Programs and Community Engagement Intern at The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Who is Mimi Plange? Curatorial Fellow Monique Long highlights Harlem-based designer Mimi Plange


A vision board from Mimi Plange’s studio for her Spring 2012 collection. She was particularly inspired by the Herero women of Namibia.

A look from the Mimi Plange 2012 collection

Another interpretation of her Herero women inspiration

Samples from Plange’s collaboration with shoe designer Manolo Blahnik.

Plange’s approach to her 2013 Fall/Winter collection references her training as an architect.

A look from Plange's Fall/Winter 2013 collection

A look from Plange's Fall/Winter 2013 collection

In her studio, Plange surrounds herself with inspiration. The wall paper in her studio is a Victorian pattern.

Plange uses an Italian embroidery technique called trapunto to interpret scarification, a traditional body adornment practiced in regions of West Africa where the skin is etched into decorative patterns.

Image: Head of a Figure.  Ife.  11th-12th century.  Terracotta.  6 ¼ inch high.

Plange’s signature trapunto incorporated into a leather shift.

Mimi Plange was born in Ghana and grew up in California. As someone who has always been interested in fashion, her mother and her uncle were her earliest influences. Her uncle, an architect, indoctrinated her with his love of art and music which, in turn, ignited her own creativity. Plange learned to play the flute, but understood early in life that she would design clothes. Before attending Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in California, she obtained a BA in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley. Her favorite visual artists include Kehinde Wiley, Wangechi Mutu, and Nandipha Mntambo.

Plange came to New York a month after graduating from the FIDM. After a few odd jobs, she landed a position at a major urban wear label, an opportunity that opened many doors. With no previous experience designing men’s clothes but a strong portfolio, she was able to enter the highly competitive talent pool that is New York City as an assistant in the menswear division. She says it was an incubation period which enhanced her knowledge of the business side of the industry.

The Label
She and her husband eventually started their own line, first under the name Boudoir D’Huitres, which she later changed to the current eponymous label Mimi Plange. Her design sensibility is informed by her training in architecture and her personal story as well as her desire to make clothes for a woman with a distinct style point-of-view.

Many come to New York with similar aspirations of rising, but Plange attributes her success in large part to her work ethic. She seems not to have been seduced by the successes she’s had relatively early in her career. Last year was a landmark year for the young designer—First Lady Michelle Obama wore a Mimi Plange A-line skirt to an appearance on the daytime television show The View, which put her on the radar. She was the subject of a short feature in The New York Times in Fall  2012, she was selected as Designer of the Year at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week South Africa.

The Clothes
By embedding her biography into her garments, Mimi Plange has created signature elements that define the label. One example is her adaptation of the Italian embroidery technique, trapunto. She uses it to interpret scarification, the traditional body adornment practiced in regions in of West Africa where the skin is etched into decorative patterns. Plange uses trapunto in this uniquely beautiful way, referencing her Ghanaian roots. The collections feature texture prominently, clean lines and feminine silhouettes that grace the female figure. Another trademark aesthetic are references from the  Victorian period which she  includes every season: diaphanous silk blouses, ruffles and floral motifs that are indicative of the period but are given a modern, even edgy treatment of vibrant color.

Fall/Winter 2013:
According to Plange, her Autumn/Winter 2013 collection, "Line & Curve," "explores curved dimensions and the use of space and negative space. The work of architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava's design of the Tenerife Concert Hall in Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife, served as a source for simplicity and sculpture. The rounded dome informed the curved seams throughout the collection.  I wanted the dominant impact to be the structure was able to make with such a clean and elegant design.  As a contrast, I also explore the intricate cut out techniques of Jen Grave's wonderous installation, "Ruffle," which inspired multi beaded laser cut leather in modern silhouettes and piecing.  For color, we focused on ivory, black, and bold infusions of burgundy, wine, and oxblood red. The mix of day and evening separates was designed for a woman, in love with modernity, effortlessness, and structure."

Spring 2012:
Plange on her Spring 2012 collection: "I capture the bright floral patterns I have seen the Herero women of Namibia wearing, and the beautiful elegant shapes of their headwear.  I am also interested in the color combinations of vintage black and white Japanese photographs that had been painted over with pastel watercolors, so one of the dominant features of the collection was color.  They are bright and muted at the same time.  I use the straight, elegant line and detail of the cattle-inspired shape of the Herero woman's head wrap to inform the modern lines of the garments.  I was definitely mixing cultures, African, Victorian and Asian.  The look is modern manipulations of traditional dress and art of Asia and Namibia.  The floral motif is from vintage Victorian florals which are worn daily by many of the Herero women in Namibia today."

Monique Long is Curatorial Fellow at The Studio Museum in Harlem.


The Shadows Took Shape tumblr is now online!


We’re excited to announce that a tumblr page accompanying the Fall/Winter 2013–14 Studio Museum exhibition The Shadows Took Shape launched today!

The Shadows Took Shape on tumblr will serve as a source for the Afrofuturist aesthetics featured in the exhibition and beyond. Stay tuned on tumblr for information about public programming, book club meetings and more! Each month we’ll have a guest blogger share their inspirations and favorite Afrofuturistic ephemera. (Note: You don’t have to have a tumblr account to view the tumblr page)

The Shadow Took Shape draws its title from an obscure Sun Ra poem and a posthumously released series of recordings. Providing an apt metaphor for the long shadow cast by Sun Ra and others, the exhibition will feature more than sixty works of art, including ten new commissions, charting the evolution of Afrofuturist tendencies by an international selection of established and emerging practitioners. These works span not only personal themes of identity and self-determination in the African-American community, but also persistent concerns of techno-culture, geographies, utopias and dystopias, as well as universal preoccupations with time and space.

The Shadows Took Shape is organized by Naima J. Keith, Assistant Curator and Zoe Whitley, independent curator and opens at The Studio Museum in Harlem on November 14.

The Shadows Took Shape Tumblr can be found at shadowstookshape.tumblr.com.

Books and Authors, Kids! Presents by Calvin A. Ramsey


Author Calvin A. Ramsey reading from his book, Ruth and the Green Book.
Photo: Elan Ferguson

Young participants worked on their own "Green Books". First, they put their names on the cover and then they were encouraged to read and answer the prompts inside.

Atlanta-based playwright, photographer and folk art painter Calvin Alexander Ramsey grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and Roxboro, North Carolina. He is a former Advisory Board Member of the Robert Woodruff Library Special Collections at Emory University in Atlanta. He is also a recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award.  His plays have been performed in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; San Francisco; Valdez, Alaska; Omaha, Nebraska; Baltimore; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In early September, the Studio Museum welcomed Ramsey as its guest for the monthly program, Books & Authors, Kids!, where he read from his children’s book Ruth and the Green Book (Carolrhoda Books, A Division of Lerner Publishing Group, 2010). Books & Authors, Kids! allows children to have a creative experience with some of their favorite writers and artists, including hands-on workshops, storytelling and a book-signing.

Told in the voice of Ruth, the story's child protagonist, Calvin Ramsey's story provides a poignant look at the impact of the Jim Crow laws on African-American travelers. In the story Ruth’s family is treated poorly and/or unable to use certain facilities due to segregation and racism.  Finally, a friendly gas station attendant shows Ruth's family the "Green Book". It lists all of the places that welcome black travelers. With this guidebook, Ruth’s parents are able to navigate their journey with confidence so that Ruth can make a safe journey from Chicago to her grandma's house in Alabama.

Mr. Ramsey stated in an interview with Lerner Publishing that he learned about the "Green Book" about eight years ago during a funeral in Atlanta, when an eighty-year-old member of the family mentioned the need for the "Green Book" to travel through the American South. Although Ruth's story is fiction, the "Green Book" and its role in helping a generation of African-American travelers avoid some of the indignities of Jim Crow laws are historical fact. 

We concluded Mr. Ramsey’s reading and discussion with creating our own "Green Book" including places that the participating children like to go. We also discussed the limitations that past generations experienced and how things are very different today. Inside each book were prompts to assist the children in making memories of what they did, observed and learned, including questions about their favorite places and drawing projects to document how they looked while doing these activities.

Face to Face with the Duke of NOLA Communications Assistant Kimberly Drew on her visit to Rashaad Newsome’s solo exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art


Rashaad Newsome
Duke of NOLA, 2011
Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Gallery, New York

I really wish I had heeded everyone's warnings when I embarked on my vacation to New Orleans. Friends said, "You'll love it there" and "Prepare for the best time of your life!" No one said, "Kim, prepare yourself for depression of massive proportions as your board your plane back to JFK..."

A week before my flight, I drafted my itinerary - I knew I'd have to see Rashaad Newsome's King of Arms at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) and eat a po' boy. I didn't want to get too ambitious heading to a new city without a plan for transportation.  My primary goal was taking it easy in the “Big Easy”.

The first day I woke up in New Orleans, I reached for my phone to check e-mails, text messages, etc. and saw the temperature for the day - a steamy 96 degrees. I had to muster my courage to step outside and head to NOMA. After a ride from the Lower Garden District to Center City, I knew I was ready to stay—I've fantasized about life in New Orleans since I was six, listening to Cash Money Records and rapping along to the Big Tymers and Lil' Wayne.

After ascending the Museum’s main staircase, I went directly to the information desk; I asked the woman at the desk a bit about what was on view. Her eyes lit as she explained that Rashaad Newsome was an artist represented by a gallery all the way from New York and that he'd graduated from Tulane University. She then urged me to grab a copy of their magazine and sent me on my way around the Grand Hall where I would find some of Newsome's collages.

If you've ever seen any of Rashaad Newsome work, your first inclination can be to search for shapes. One of his great strengths is using assemblage to manufacture new images. It's easy to be distracted and enchanted by the grandeur of his collages until you take time to relish in his mastery of visual culture .

It has been claimed that people look at works of art for approximately eight seconds. It takes at least ten to finish ogling the custom frames housing Newsome’s collages. Much like the city of New Orleans, the gaudy  exterior  of his works is backed with complicated, deeply-rooted cultural context. One of my favorite works in the show is Duke of NOLA (2011) which features New Orleans-based rapper Juvenile. If you’re a big fan of the Cash Money Millionaires, you’ll note how much Newsome’s work is in conversation with their album art.

In Duke of NOLA, a miniature Juvenile presides over the canvas. His body language is markedly hyper-masculine even though we only see his torso. Just beyond his shoulders are delicate strings of diamonds which create a bit of tension in the middle of the canvas. The bottom half of the canvas is covered in a series of anonymous limbs. Each of the arms  reaches delicately for the candy-coated frame almost as a metaphor for the rapper’s desire for fame.

Though the Grand Hall of NOMA is impressive, it was a treat to encounter two stray Newsome pieces in the second floor galleries. Newsome’s Herald (2011), a video installation placed alongside the Museum's collection of French royalty portraits was a welcome change in a gallery full of static imagery. In an article in the Huffington Post, Newsome notes that the piece is usually about the dynamic jousting scene portrayed in the video, but asserts, “I'm stepping away from the body and looking at architecture and ornament.” The clever juxtaposition of this work with collection work from another era highlights the ornate nature of the universe Newsome creates in his artistic practice.

On Location Curatorial Intern Margo Cohen Ristorucci checks out Jacolby Satterwhite's latest project,


Jacolby Satterwhite programming his technology, preparing to film visitors to Recess
Image courtesy the artist and Recess Activities, Inc., New York

Jacolby getting his bodysuit on a mannequin for the window display at Recess
Image courtesy the artist and Recess Activities, Inc., New York

Jacolby Satterwhite in costume, filming visitors  at Recess
Photo: Margo Cohen Ristorucci

Curatorial Intern Margo Ristorucci performing an interpretation of the drawing given to her by Satterwhite
Photo: Margo Cohen Ristorucci

Over the past two months, Jacolby Satterwhite has transformed Recess Activities’s Soho space into an interactive performance, inviting passersby to act out his mother Patricia Satterwhite’s schematic drawings for Grey Lines—the newest work in his series, The Matriarch’s Rhapsody (2012). Recess’s primary program, Session, grants artists funding and access to its Soho and Red Hook locations to use as studios, exhibition venues or hybridized spaces of artistic experimentation. Over the course of his Session (August 17–October 12, 2013), Satterwhite created a 3D animated video incorporating drawing, CG animation and improvised or mediated performance.

Similar to previous installments of the series, the video content for Grey Lines directly derives from drawings by the artist’s mother. A diagnosed schizophrenic, Patricia Satterwhite’s drawings of everyday objects were originally conceived as designs to be manufactured and sold on QVC (a cable channel where entrpereneurs can sell goods). Interpreted as imagined aids to the body, they are at  once sensual and sinister—her simplified forms and crisp lines resonating with a sense of unease. 

Until Grey Lines, the videos in the series have exclusively employed the artist’s own body. With his latest work, however, Satterwhite solicits the collaboration of strangers.“What inspired the Session was that I needed a new databank of inspiration, because I was putting one of my series to rest, which was "Reifying Desire" (ongoing) and I am moving more toward another series of works,” Satterwhite said at the closing reception for Grey Lines. “I felt like archiving and outsourcing movement from others was going to give me the opportunity to increase the complexity and the surrealist possibilities that I normally outsource from the drawings or from videotaped public performances.  [Another person's] language, movement and responses in these Recess performances are a rich resource of new possibilities for how I can make video.”

Upon entering Recess, each participant is greeted by the gregarious Satterwhite, who is decked out in one of his signature silver catsuits , and given one of 300 graphite line drawings that the artist has selected for the Session. Satterwhite allows participants time to review the drawing and then situates them in front of his camera. Between Satterwhite and a green screen, each participant announces the number on the back of their drawing, places the drawing on the floor offscreen and begins to imagine with their body what Patricia Satterwhite draws with pencil. Participants’ performances range from thirty seconds to three minutes. After finishing, they return the drawing to a stack that will soon join the walls of fluttering pages that have already been enacted. 

I received an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper with the word “scissors” above almost expressive   depictions of scissors and mixing tools. With Satterwhite’s encouragement, I began to snip away at the air around my body. Satterwhite explained that the textual and visual depictions of objects in his mother’s drawings function much like props did for Fluxus, Dada and Surrealists artists. They provide the genesis for his work and in my case, guided my movements.“Text is a place for me to string together incongruent ideas and find a way to shape them into some kind of unity,” he said. “I am always borrowing language from others and repurposing it—so like, my mother’s drawings are text, what you did with the scissor movement. I don’t know what you meant by it, but I know what I saw, and I know how I am going to use it.”

In fact, it is from the liminal space between the artist and his inspiration that Satterwhite developed the title for the Session. “That’s where I think art lives, in that grey space,” he reflected. “That why I call it ‘Grey Lines'.” Because it is literally grey lines, but the grey lines is what I’m searching for.”

Jacolby Satterwhite received a MFA from University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in 2010 and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore in 2008. Previous Studio Museum exhibitions include Shift: Projects | Perspectives | Directions (Spring 2012) and Fore (Fall/Winter 2012–13). Satterwhite is included in the upcoming Fall/Winter 2013–14 exhibition, Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, opening at the Studio Museum on November 14, 2013.

Margo Cohen Ristorucci is a Fall 2013 Curatorial Intern at The Studio Museum in Harlem

Printmaking with Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School


Elan Ferguson working with students at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School on a printmaking project

Ink and brayers (rollers) on a palette for making monoprints

A student works to carve a negative with which to print

Rolling out the ink for making prints

Putting on finishing touches

Checking out the final product!

I had the pleasure of accompanying our Family Programs Coordinator and teaching artist Elan Ferguson during a visit to Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School in Harlem, one of the Museum's multi-session school partnerships. Elan worked with Ms. Siobhan Gordon’s 2nd grade classroom this fall. Elan’s curriculum supports early stages of visual literacy, highlights an artist of the month chosen by the school and introduces artists exhibited by or in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum. In addition, Elan conducts visual inquiries and uses creative writing and journaling activities to keep track of ideas and vocabulary.

Recently, Elan focused on TMALS's artist of the month, Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas, whose unique artistic style fused the artist's interests in modernism and African art. In addition, Elan introduced the work of photographer James Van Der Zee and 2012–13 artist in residence Jennifer Packer to discuss the Harlem Renaissance and different painting techniques.

During my class visit, I had a chance to observe students taking part in a visual inquiry   of Aaron Douglas’s painting, Creation (1927). They produced monoprints, a form of printmaking in which the images or lines you create can only be printed once, of their own design with teammates and recreate Creation on fabric. They got hands-on experience using diverse materials, such as foam, cardboard, printmaking ink, rollers, and brayers, as well as an introduction to new vocabulary and an important moment in African-American art history.

Erin K. Hylton is Education Coordinator at The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Marvelous Dandies Allison Janae Hamilton presents her foppish subjects in lush landscapes


In “Kingdom of the Marvelous,” Hamilton references thematic elements of traditional fashion portraiture to challenge how contemporary fashion photography has characterized the black male body as a symbol of the urban street.

“Kingdom” dislocates bodies from predetermined landscapes, relocating them in worlds where anything is possible and characters delight in spaces that are often inaccessible to them in real life.

Hamilton draws from her own childhood memories—some tangible, others fantastical—as a basis for her whimsical backdrops and thematic elements. Signifiers such as taxidermy, lace, flowers, veils, tambourines, church fans and other ornaments animate these memories.

When I look at the new work of Harlem-based photographer Allison Hamilton, a series entitled "Kingdom of the Marvelous," counterintuitively I think about the folkloric tale of John Henry, the legendary steel driver who tried to prove his worth by successfully outpacing an industrial machine. Perhaps not the work itself makes me think of the story, but something she said to me during a recent studio visit: “I wanted to place black men in a setting other than the usual urban landscape where they always seem to be at odds, even struggling against it.” Like the themes in the story, Hamilton is working with the tension between masculinity and its relationship to the land the black body versus its environs.

She is inspired by her roots in the rural American South where she would see men in her family work the land.  Hamilton places her subjects in pastoral settings, not geographically identifiable but beautiful and otherworldly. In "Kingdom of the Marvelous," Hamilton is drawing on visual themes of surrealism, magical realism, and the marvelous, an aesthetic that she began developing after a recent residency at the School of Visual Arts. “Whereas the black male body is often utilized in fashion photography as a realist representation of the urban, city center, I am interested in repositioning the same body in an entirely different setting”, says Hamilton. The superhuman John Henry met his death while battling to reconcile his status in the world. Yet the men in Hamilton’s photographs, still juxtaposed against these lush landscapes, are sedate and self-possessed—lone, enigmatic figures at peace with their surroundings.

Monique Long is Curatorial Fellow at The Studio Museum in Harlem

Continuing in the Spirit at The Studio Museum in Harlem


Theaster Gates
See, Sit, Sup, Sing: Holding Court (installation view), 2012
The Studio Museum in Harlem
Photo: Adam Reich

Theaster Gates
See, Sit, Sup, Sing: Holding Court (installation view from 125th Street), 2012
The Studio Museum in Harlem
Photo: Adam Reich

Theaster Gates
See, Sit, Sup, Sing: Holding Court (installation view), 2012
The Studio Museum in Harlem
Photo: Adam Reich

On a regular Thursday evening passers-by walking down 125th Street will occasionally stop to look through the glass windows of the Studio Museum's atrium. It is not unusual to see people of all backgrounds stop and meander, trying to get a quick peek to glimpse at what is going on inside the museum. Theaster Gates's See, Sit, Sup, Sip, Sing: Holding Court (2012), currently housed in the Atrium, has garnered considerable attention since its installation in plain view of 125th Street on the occasion of Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art. An installation comprising classroom materials sourced from the recently closed Crispus Attucks Elementary School on the South Side of Chicago, See, Sit, Sup, Sip, Sing: Holding Court is designed as a learning tool, encouraging interactivity, community engagement and friendly exchange.

During the day, Gates's installation has become a site for Studio Museum personnel to convene and hold meetings; it has also been activated by the Education department for youth programs, such as Lil' Studio and Hands On activities. Recently, a conversation involving high school and college students, including many Expanding the Walls alumni, came to "The Table," (as See, Sit, Sup, Sip, Sing: Holding Court is known informally at the Museum) to sit and discuss the Museum's current exhibition, The Shadows Took Shape.

Navigating through initial shyness and apprehension, many small conversations about the exhibition gave way to a larger group discussion. We talked about the work on view related to the larger history of art and how it has been skewed when looking through the lens of the African diasporic experience.  For these students, history is an important consideration when thinking about the future and defining futurism. When presented with the question of "what is futurism," I expected the students to focus on technology or scientific advancement as defining factors. Surprisingly, a few cited Karl Marx as a means of thinking about social change and its global impact in the coming decades.  The lively discussion then unfolded to cover a wide range of topics, including the definition of “blackness” and the black identity, the role of race in music, the politics of respectability, gentrification and cultural appropriation, among other issues. The discussants' insight into the problems within their communities, coupled with their forward thinking in approaching solutions for those problems, prompted me on more than one occasion to put down my pen and stop taking notes, so I could listen with full attention to their words.

The themes they discussed in this 90-minute conversation, loosely inspired by a series of questions formulated by Gerald Leavell II, the Studio Museum's Expanding the Walls and Youth Programs Coordinator reverberate not just with the Museum's current exhibitions, but also as the surrounding community. Museums are important educational tools; events such as this affirm the Museum's position as a "site for [the] dynamic exchange of ideas about art and society." The art on view sparked a socially-engaged, intellectual dialogue amongst this young audience, activating this particular space in the Museum in a truly awe-inspiring way.

Tara Burns was a Fall 2013 Education Intern at The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Permanent Collection Highlight Sonia Boyce: , 2006


Sonia Boyce (b. 1962, London, UK)
Untitled (from the "Rivington Place Portfolio"), 2006
Hard, soft ground and spitbite etching on Pescia Magnani paper
30 × 20 inches
Museum purchase with funds provided by the Acquisition Committee 08.10.1

In her 2006 etching Untitled, Sonia Boyce pays tribute to fourteen black female luminaries in British music history. Performers featured in the composition include Dame Shirley Bassey, DBE, Welsh pop singer known for recording several James Bond movie theme songs, such as the title theme for Goldfinger (1964); Adelaide Hall, American-born and UK-based jazz singer; Millie Small, Jamaican singer-songwriter who topped pop charts in the mid-1960s with her song “My Boy Lollipop”; Cleo Laine, British actress and Grammy award-winning singer, among others. The act of assembling such a collection, according to Boyce, is not intended to represent the musicians; rather, it is a nod to the collective memory built by their diverse audiences. The sinewy lines enshrining the names resemble connective tissue or sonic reverberations, suggesting that the artist’s personal act of inscription is also a making of a body of musical history. The stars, blot-like and tonal in comparison to the letters and lines, were created by spitbite aquatint. In this etching process, the artist unevenly applies acid to a rosin-based (aquatint) coating of a metal plate, exposing the areas of the surface to be printed. Boyce’s stars that speckle the page seem to represent the fame and accomplishments these women achieved.

Sonia Boyce is a painter and mixed media artist whose work deals with questions of history, British national identity, and Afrodiasporic experience. Her recent solo exhibition, Scat - Sonia Boyce: Sound and Collaboration, at the Institute of International Visual Arts (InIVA)’s Rivington Place,  featured video installations, including Oh Adelaide (2010) and Devotional Collection (2013) related to this print.

Dana Liss is a Curatorial Intern at The Studio Museum in Harlem.

The New Studio Magazine is Here!


The cover of the Winter/Spring 2014 issue of Studio
Image: Wanuri Kahiu, Pumzi (video still), 2009 Courtesy Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program

The latest issue of Studio Magazine has arrived! 

This issue features an introduction to our new artists in residence, Kevin Beasley, Bethany Collins and Abigail DeVille; reflections on Carrie Mae Weems by Franklin Sirmans; interviews and conversations with 2013 Turner Prize nominee Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Jennifer PackerOscar Murillo and Harold Offeh; celebrating the 20th anniversary of Houston's Project Row Houses; Wein Prize winner Gary Simmons; activities for kids, including a coloring page by Stacey Robinson, a performance art-inspired lesson plan for teachers and book picks; checking in with The Laundromat Project; and a preview of our highly anticipated Spring 2014 exhibition, When the Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination and the American South

Check out a digital copy here or you can pick up the magazine at the Museum beginning January 30, the first day of our new exhibition, Carrie Mae Weems: The Museum Series

Introducing Sable Smith Meet our New Education Assistant!


Sable Smith

My name is Sable Elyse Smith, and I am the new Education Assistant here at The Studio Museum in Harlem. I am originally from Los Angeles, which is one of many reasons why I'm so passionate about education and access—when I was in high school, my access to arts education became increasingly nonexistent, and I decided to commit myself in some way to arts education.  My path has been long—the abridged version is that I studied painting and filmmaking at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia, and recently completed my MFA in Design & Technology at Parsons: The New School for Design, where I am currently part-time faculty.

Somewhere in between pursuing my two degrees, I did a year's long stint in London working while taking classes from time to time. There I discovered the work of Kara Walker while visiting the Tate Modern. A year later, I discussed the colonial archive, Walker’s work, and the repetition of the words light & dark in Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness at a liberal arts symposium held at Oglethorpe University. The archive—a subject with which I am fascinated—can be generally considered a vessel of information contributing to the construction of a particular historical narrative.

In addition to my teaching practice, which also includes an apprenticeship at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), I am a working artist. My work has been supported by institutions such as the New Museum, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Artist Television Access in San Francisco, the International Center for Photography and Eyebeam in New York, among others. My work encompasses lectures, pedagogy and the examination of history, both personal and collective.

Through this chain of events, I find myself at the Studio Museum. I am excited to be working at an institution whose values are completely in line with my own, but more importantly, I am excited to be involved in an educational endeavor which posits access as a driving force. I am looking forward to getting to know Harlem, to familiarize myself with the Museum's permanent collection and I am especially excited about the opportunity to learn. This is a position where my hours of learning will dramatically outweigh my hours of teaching and I am grateful for that. Don’t be surprised if you find me leading your groups guided tour or workshops at the Museum in the near future!

Around Town Gulu Real Art Studio: Martina Bacigalupo


Obal Dennis: “I choose backgrounds according to the person’s request, depending on the purpose of the photograph. For instance the “UWMFO,” (United Women for Co-operative Saving Society) wants their members to have their photos taken [with] a red background, I don’t know why—that’s their policy.”

Image courtesy the artist and the Walther Collection

Patterns of dress and even aberrations in patterns are signs we normally read unconsciously but become more legible when the face is missing from the composition.

Image courtesy the artist and the Walther Collection

Denis: “Red background is really fitting for our dark skin; it brings out the tone on the skin and makes it look nicer.”

Image courtesy the artist and the Walther Collection


Gomesi (the garment worn here) is traditional African dress, most often worn by women who are well-to-do and married as a sign of being respectable.

Image courtesy the artist and the Walther Collection

Denis: “My father taught me to be a professional photographer but as a young man we also discovered taking photos in a landscape format and full pose, seated on a stool. Then we punch out the heads to make passport photos. My father is very much against it this way because it’s not professional but it helps serve our customers’ needs when they need only one or two copies.”

Image courtesy the artist and the Walther Collection

“There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face...” Macbeth, William Shakespeare

What constitutes a portrait when the face of the subject is removed from the composition? A critical mass of 73 photographs, the Gulu Real Art Studio installation, recently on view at The Walther Collection Project Space in Chelsea, presented such portraits for contemplation. The images included in the exhibition were found materials salvaged from the trash behind a studio in Gulu, a town in northern Uganda, each portrait had the face cut out for use on official documents. After gaining permission, Italian photojournalist Martina Bacigalupo, who happened to be at the studio for her own portrait, was compelled to begin collecting the discarded photographs.

The collaboration between Raymond Okot, the owner of Gulu Real Art Studio, his son Obal Denis, and Bacigalupo combines the studio's practical approach to photography with observation and interviews. Bacigalupo conducted a series of interviews with the Acholi, the ethnic group that populates the region, highlighting their history, culture and customs.

Central to the exhibition were the photographs themselves. Experiencing the series in one image after the other, one becomes more of aware of other distinguishing features and gestures, such as the folds of a garment, the formality of the pose, silhouette and the varieties and similarities in patterns of dress. These patterns are signs we normally read unconsciously but they become more legible as the eye compensates for the missing faces. By reading these details more closely, the photographs demonstrate the recurring impulse to communicate identity through signals embedded in clothing in spite of the fact that the intention of the portraits are only meant for bureaucratic documents.

Monique Long is the 2013–14 Curatorial Fellow at The Studio Museum in Harlem. 

Terry Adkins 1953–2014


Terry Adkins performing at the Studio Museum
November 13, 2013
Photo: Will Ragozzino

The staff and trustees of The Studio Museum in Harlem mourn the tragic loss of a great artist, musician, teacher and performer. Terry Adkins was one of the most innovative artists of his generation, combining a musical and lyrical approach to visual art with a deep investment in the individuals who shaped American history and a fascination with material culture. The Studio Museum is proud to have had a long association with him dating back to his participation in the Museum’s Artist-in-Residence program in 1982–83. His legacy will live on not only through his incredible body of work, but also through the lives and work of the many students he mentored during his tenure as a beloved Fine Arts professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Breath and Body Questions for performance artist Dave McKenzie


Dave McKenzie
Dave, 2010
Image courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

Dave McKenzie
Dave, 2010
Image courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

Thomas Lax, Studio Museum Assistant Curator and organizer of Darker than the Moon, Smaller than the Sun, diagrams highlights of McKenzie's history as a performance artist

Dave McKenzie
We Shall Overcome (video still), 2004
Courtesy the artist

On February 20 and 21, 2014, Dave McKenzie performs his retrospective Darker than the Moon, Smaller than the Sun. The performance is part of the live programs series organized on the occasion of Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, currently on view through March 9, 2014 at the Studio Museum.

The artist has a long history with the Museum including his residency in the 2003–04 cycle of the Museum’s Artist-in-Residence program and the group exhibition 30 Seconds Off an Inch in 2009. He also premiered a lecture-performance last November at Performa 13, All the King’s horses… none of his men. McKenzie will exhibit a new work in the Whitney Museum of American Art's 2014 Biennial, opening March 7.

Curatorial Fellow Monique Long sits down with McKenzie to talk about this juncture in live performance in relationship to the Museum and art making.

You are a fairly young artist yet you have been working for well over ten years. How do you feel about a retrospective at this point in your career?

I don't think I am treating this as a retrospective in any strict sense of the word. So that really frees me up to talk and think about the things that are more basic and fundamental in my work. I think of retrospectives in much the same way that I think about the question, "What kind of work do you make?" It's a simple question but not really an easy one. Plus, the question can be addressed through form, material, intention, history, biography and so on. For some artists the answer will be fairly straightforward (even as the answer doesn't necessarily address the breadth and depth of one's thinking), but I have always found it difficult to describe what I am doing succinctly. I suppose I favor a certain type of complexity which doesn't only privilege 'looking back' but also introspection.

Your formal training is in printmaking. How did you transition into performance art?

The transition started at some point in college. I was lucky enough to be in a department that accepted and encouraged experimentation, but I always think back upon the education that I received by sitting in the school's library and flipping through various monographs and catalogues. It was there that I discovered the work of a number of artists from the 70's, in particular, artists who had actively used the body or engaged the body as a subject or medium—artists like David Hammons, Gina Pane and VALIE EXPORT. At the time, I would have said that the work was more radical and intense than the things I was seeing on a daily basis, and even though I was looking at images from the past my mind was coming to terms with something forward looking. Again, I think the openness of the printmaking department and this sense of an anachronistic-future really led me towards experimenting with performance, language, and structure.

Your retrospective features a parade-sized balloon which was previously used in another performance at the Aspen Art Museum. Could you talk about the object in this iteration? Particularly your ideas around metaphor and repetition?

The balloon was originally created for a July 4th parade in Aspen, Colorado, and was based on a video that I made called Watch the Sky. In Watch the Sky, I used television footage of the Macy's Day Parade and then superimposed a caricature of myself over top of a character named Little Bill (a Bill Cosby character).  What ended up in Aspen was a Frankenstein version of this image from Watch the Sky.  Aspen is not a town known for its racial diversity, so when viewers of the parade saw this black figure—one they could not identify and had no particular reference or even affinity towards—they tended to fill in the gaps by associating this black male with any popular black male they could conjure up. Obama, Lebron [James], etc. In the [retrospective], I think the balloon will have a number of functions and refer to a number of things—it is beautiful and ugly, full and empty, present and absent. It's my body, maybe, but certainly like my body it is already historical and preconceived. Still, if I had to put my figure on one thing it points to and addresses it would be breath.

There is great interest in your participation in the Whitney Biennial opening next month. Could you give an overview of your work for the exhibition?

In the Whitney Biennial I will be showing two recent works in video. I am not sure that I can describe them well, but I think they both have a lot to say about history, memory, preservationand witnessing—they are notably different from other videos that I have made, in that,  my presence behind the camera is more important than my presence in front of it . Beyond all that I am just incredibly happy with them...

What or who would you say has been most influential to your work?

I don't know that I have one answer for this as a lot of things and a lot of people have influenced the way I think and work. I do however think back to school and a lecture that Vito Acconci gave. His lecture is probably the only one from that period in time that I still have an after image of. In talking about his own history he said something along these lines, "I knew I could be an artist because I knew I could think." That for me was confirmation of something that I had started to believe and still to this day believe. It is not that I don't value the hand and eye in making but to think is already a form of participation and creation.

Studio Visit Alexis Peskine


Inside Alexis Peskine's studio
Photo: Martha Scott Burton

Inside Alexis Peskine's studio
Photo: Martha Scott Burton

Alexis Peskine
Désintégration, 2011
Courtesy the artist

Alexis Peskine
Liberty Leading, Equality Leaving, 2011
Courtesy the artist

Artist Alexis Peskine (b. 1979) focuses on questions of national and racial identity, the black body experience, and universal emotions. Peskine moved to the United States to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in 2003 and a Master’s degree in Digital Art in 2004.  He then enrolled in Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) on a Fulbright Scholarship (the first foreign student to be awarded this honor), where he completed his MFA. His influences are wide-ranging, including Kara Walker, Takashi Murakami, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy, as is his approach to art-making and his chosen materials.

Peskine’s most recent work surrounds what he calls the “third step in an artistic practice: activism.”  He has been teaching and working with urban youth in Brazil, encouraging them to make their own work and bringing them on as assistants in his own practice.  Three of them traveled with him to Paris to meet and collaborate with youth in the Bobigny section of Paris.  Peskine is currently developing an artist studio for youth in Brazil and is working to bring the Bobigny youth to Australia to work with aboriginal populations.  For Peskine, these relationships and the resultant work area methodology for working and an artistic medium itself. 

Of the work created while living in the States, Peskine states that the focus was more on bridging racial dynamics between the United States and France. Upon returning to France during Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency (2007-2012), Peskine became more involved with protests and supporting movements against racism and xenophobia, which were on the rise. He sees his work as questioning the concept of an ideal French identity, summed up in the common French phrase, “France eternal.” His first exhibition in the United States, French Evolution: Race, Politics and the 2005 Riots (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts [MoCaDa], 2007) featured large and immersive works examining the intense racial-political terrain of France.

It was during his studies at Howard that Peskine began his nail pieces.  Using nine sizes of nails, he uses the nail as brushstroke in a technique that brings to mind screen printing, Pop Art from Warhol to Chuck Close and Lichtenstein, and African Nkisi sculpture.  He drives in the nails at different depths to create a sense of relief and introduce a third dimension.  Critics have noted a connection between his technique and voodoo and crucifixion.  There is a tension between simple materials and technology, of ancestral themes and modernity, of art and craft. 

His subjects are always black and always bold, at times bordering on aggressive.  Peskine used pop culture icons, such as the famous  Franco-Belgian comic book character, Asterix, Mister Clean, Aunt Jemima and Delacroix’s iconic image of Liberty in Liberty Leading the People (28th July 1830). “They are characters, not victims. In Désintégration (2011), Asterix is erasing the woman, but she’s bigger and can take control.”  In the nail pieces and his photographs, the models hold a strong, unwavering presence.  “I am trying to diversify images of the black body, a sort of visual affirmative action.”He combines political or advertising slogans, visual puns and references to universal themes with a hint of humor, all towards a vigorous social commentary on the black body’s experience.  He cites as an aesthetic inspiration Jean-Paul Goude, a well-known French graphic designer and illustrator who has had a lasting influence on French advertising.  Peskine now says he is moving beyond the pop culture icons in a return to the “pure, simplified” nail pieces.  His growing interest in Afrofuturism and travel are leading him to “depart from the black body” and head into unknown territories.

Martha Scott Burton is a former Studio Museum Curatorial Intern.

Elsewhere Thelma's Current Exhibition Picks


Lamar Peterson
The Window, 2010
Courtesy the artist and Fredricks & Freiser, New York

Archibald Motley
Nightlife, 1943
The Art Institute of Chicago; Restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Field, Jack and Sandra Guthman, Ben W. Heineman, Ruth Horwich, Lewis and Susan Manilow, Beatrice C. Mayer, Charles A. Meyer, John D. Nichols, and Mr. and Mrs. E.B. Smith, Jr.; James W. Alsdorf Memorial Fund; Goodman Endowment, 1992.89

Yinka Shonibare, MBE
Magic Ladder Kid I, 2013
Commissioned by The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia
Image courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York

Herbert Gentry
Dance Turquoise, 1978
Courtesy Mary Ann Rose/The Estate of Herbert Gentry

Blue Plastic Bubbles: Paintings by Lamar Peterson
On view through April 5, 2014
University Art Museum, SUNY Albany
1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222

Lamar Peterson is presenting a new suite of paintings, works on paper and mixed media collage from the past 10 years at SUNY Albany. Showcasing his signature style of combining deceptively cheerful imagery with sinister subtexts, Peterson's work considers issues of race, class and social unrest. Peterson's work has been featured at the Studio Museum in Shift: Projects | Perspectives | Directions (2012) and Picture in a Picture, his 2005 solo exhibition. On February 25, the University Art Museum will welcome Peterson for an artist talk, followed by a reception for the artist.

Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist
On view through May 11, 2014
Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
2001 Campus Drive
Durham, NC 27705

A master painter whose vibrant canvases captured the essence of early 20th century Chicago, Archibald Motley (1891–1981)'s legacy is on full view at Duke University's Nasher Museum. Jazz Age Modernist is the first retrospective of the artist's work in two decades. Curated by Richard J. Powell, the exhibition will travel throughout 2014 to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (Fort Worth, TX), the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chicago Cultural Center, with a final stop at the Whitney Museum in Fall 2015. Accompanying the exhibition will be a full-color catalogue with essays by David C. Driskell, Ishmael Reed, Amy Mooney, Davarian L. Baldwin and Oliver Meslay.

Yinka Shonibare MBE: Magic Ladders
On view through April 24, 2014
The Barnes Foundation
2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130

The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia is presenting an exhibition in collaboration with Yinka Shonibare MBE, his first major exhibition in Philadelphia since his 2004 residency at the Fabric Workshop and Museum. Including approximately 15 sculptures, paintings, photographs and an installation, Magic Ladders reflects on educational access and opportunity, as well as the collecting practices of the Barnes, one of the first American collections to treat African sculpture with equal weight as art from Europe or the Americas. 

Making Connections: The Art and Life of Herbert Gentry
On view through March 30, 2014
Boston University Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery
855 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

Herbert Gentry (1919–2003), whose La Vie Rougee (1965) was included in our Spring 2013 exhibition, Brothers and Sisters, is the subject of a new exhibition at Boston University. Gentry, who expatriated in the 1950s to France, where he befriended fellow American painter Beauford Delaney, is noted for his swirling, figurative work refracted through the lens of abstraction. Also included in this exhibition are works by close friends of Gentry, such as Delaney and Romare Bearden.

Check in next week for more of Thelma's recommendations for things to see around town and beyond! 

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Ellison at 100 Livestream Watch it here!


Ralph Ellison lived in Harlem from the late 1930s until his death on April 16, 1994. He was a prominent figure in the neighborhood’s overlapping literary and artistic communities. Ellison at 100: Reading Invisible Man honors this legacy through a landmark collaboration between two leading Harlem-based cultural institutions. The participating artists in the program have been specially curated by the Studio Museum and the Schomburg Center teams, following in both institutions’ tradition of exploring Harlem as a site for artistic and literary creation. 

Ellison at 100: Reading Invisible Man is organized by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The Studio Museum in Harlem with the generous support of the Ralph and Fanny Ellison Charitable Trust.

10am Session: Ralph Ellison and the Future:
Youth Reading Invisible Man

Ramya Ramana, 2014 NYC Youth Poet Laureate
Arnell Calderon — junior at The New York, City iSchool and 2013 participant, Expanding the Walls: Making Connections Between Photography, History and Community at the Studio Museum
Christopher Neal — sophomore at Manhattan Hunter Science High Schooland 2014 participant, Expanding the Walls Participants in the The Junior Scholars Program at the Schomburg Center

1pm Session
1 p.m.
Bill T. Jones, Prologue
Music by Aaron Diehl

2 p.m.
Oren Jacoby and friends, Chapter Nine
Alondra Nelson, Chapter Eleven
Deborah Willis, Chapter Seventeen

3 p.m.
Jonathan McCrory, Chapter Twenty-One
Greg Tate, Chapter Twenty-Three
Music by Marcelle Davies-Lashley

4 p.m.
Terrance McKnight, Epilogue
Music by Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber / REBELLUM

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