Past

Labor, Love, Live Collection in Context
Nov 14, 2007 - Mar 9, 2008
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  • Benny Andrews

    Narcissus, 1980

    Etching on paper, 29 1/4 x 19 7/8 in.

    Gift of the artist  80.6.1

  • Rex Goreleigh

    Untitled, 1975

    Silkscreen on paper, 14 1/4 x 10 3/4 in.

    Gift of Lawrence Hilton  81.13

  • Valerie Maynard

    3 A.M. 125th Street, 1973

    Linocut on paper, 18 1/4 x 13 1/2 in.

    Gift of the artist 81.12.3

  • Valerie Maynard
    General Fred, 1973
    Linocut on paper, 17 7/8 x 13 in.
    Gift of the artist 81.12.2

  • Hale Woodruff
    Sunday Promenade, 1935/1982
    Block print on paper, 9 ½ x 7 ½ in.
    Museum purchase and a gift from E. Thomas Williams and Audlyn Higgins Williams 97.9.32

Labor, Love, Live: Collection in Context presents an intimate selection of works on paper from The Studio Museum in Harlem’s permanent collection. The drawings, prints and photographs in this exhibition, many of which are being shown here for the first time, depict scenes from the everyday lives of African Americans throughout the twentieth century: workers returning home and resting after a hard day’s labor, people in quiet moments of reflection, and families and friends gathered in good and bad times.

The works in this exhibition explore the themes of labor, love and life in different ways. In Separation (1954), Elizabeth Catlett Mora’s linocut on paper, a woman is depicted behind a barbed-wire fence, staring across to the other side. It is unclear if she has been separated from her friends, family or freedom, but a sense of longing and weariness is evident in her face. On the other hand, Jacob Lawrence’s colorful lithograph, Tools (1977) focuses on the tools of labor instead of the actual laborers. In Sunday Promenade (1935/1985), one of four block prints by Hale Woodruff in this exhibition, men and women in hats of different shapes and sizes leave Sunday church services. For them, the walk home may be a time to catch up with friends, discuss the events of the past week or reflect on the sermon they just heard. The most recent works in this exhibition, two photographs from Barthélémy Toguo’s “Transit” series (1996–1999), examine the process of crossing borders, both real and imagined.

This exhibition continues the investigation of the formation and development of the Museum’s permanent collection and its critical role in the history of the institution. The permanent collection at The Studio Museum in Harlem began over thirty years ago, when the Museum began accepting works from generous artists and donors. Today the permanent collection numbers over 1,600 objects, and continues to grow in exciting directions. Collection in Context uses new strategies to highlight key holdings and expand the conversation around African-American art and artists of African descent.