Studio Visits

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Studio Visit

Ayanah V. Jackson

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  • Does the Brown Paper Bag Test ... ... Really Exist?/ Will my Father be Proud? (from the "Archival Impulse" series), 2013

     

    Courtesy the artist and Gallery MOMO

  • Don't Hide the Blade/ How do you think their women dress? (from the "Archival Impulse" series), 2013

     

    Courtesy the artist and Gallery MOMO

  • Death (from the "Poverty Pornography" series), 2011

     

    Courtesy the artist and Gallery MOMO

  • Dis Ease (from the "Poverty Pornography" series), 2011

     

    Courtesy the artist and Gallery MOMO

  • Dictatorship (from the "Poverty Pornography" series), 2012

     

    Courtesy the artist and Gallery MOMO

  • On Fire (video still), 2014

     

    Courtesy Dean Hutton in collaboration with Dorky Park

  • The Dorky Park On Fire Cast, 2014

     

    Courtesy Dean Hutton in collaboration with Dorky Park

  • The Dorky Park On Fire Cast, 2014

     

    Courtesy Dean Hutton in collaboration with Dorky Park

Per the gracious introduction of Thomas Lax, I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Ayana V. Jackson some time ago. We first met in Berlin, where Ayana graciously guided me around the city. Jackson, a US American and graduate of Spelman College, splits her time between Johannesburg, New York and Paris, where we followed up a few weeks later to discuss her work and artistic practice. Her photography and filmmaking, while simultaneously alluring and shocking, serve a higher conceptual function: a bitingly intelligent elucidation of the power of the image, the scars of history and the internalized architectures of difference built thereof.  Confronting what she terms the “original sin of images,” Jackson manipulates her own body as subject, creating a running critique of socialized perceptions of race, gender and class and their intersections. 

Studio Visit

Alexis Peskine

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  • 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.

Marvelous Dandies

Allison Janae Hamilton presents her foppish subjects in lush landscapes

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  • 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.

Draped Down

Curatorial Fellow Monique Long on Fashion in Harlem and Art

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  • Curatorial Fellow Monique Long

  • Elan Ferguson, Studio Museum Family Programs Coordinator, at our Summer 2013 opening
    Photo: Scott Rudd

  • Style conscious visitors reflecting on the work featured in Robert Pruitt: Women.
    Photo: Scott Rudd

  • Colorful prints were ubiquitous at our Summer 2013 opening.
    Photo: Scott Rudd

  • Menswear is in the midst of a renaissance at the moment. Three gentlemen enjoy the work of Robert Pruitt in the main galleries.
    Photo: Scott Rudd

  • Artist Jacolby Satterwhite
    Photo: Scott Rudd

  • Singer Solange Knowles snaps a photo in VideoStudio: Long Takes
    Photo: Scott Rudd

  • White is a summer staple.
    Photo: Scott Rudd

  • Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of Cool (installation view)
    The Studio Museum in Harlem, 2008–09
    Photo: Adam Reich

In the glossary that accompanied Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Story in Harlem Slang,” (1942) there are five different terms listed for someone fashionable. Invariably, iconic photographs of Harlemites include those dressed in blindingly fashionable clothes. There’s a rich history and tradition in Harlem that defines the neighborhood not only as the cornerstone of African-American culture but style as well. Visitors and residents alike assimilate to the expectation that you must express yourself fashionably here, demonstrated beautifully by the attendees at our summer opening in July and the monumental drawings by Rob Pruitt of fashionable women that hang in the main gallery.

Points of Inspiration

A Day with Lorna Simpson

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  • ETW students experimenting with the mirrored set built by Simpson Photo: Wesley Coram

  • ETW students experimenting with the mirrored set built by Simpson Photo: Gerald Leavell

  • ETW students experimenting with the mirrored set built by Simpson
    Photo: Kelvin Hady

  • Lorna Simpson (center) with ETW students
    Photo: Gerald Leavell

  • Lorna Simpson with ETW students
    Photo: Gerald Leavell

  • The ETW group with program leader Gerald Leavell and Lorna Simpson

On March 30th, artist Lorna Simpson (b. 1960) welcomed the Expanding the Walls (ETW) artists to her Fort Greene, Brooklyn studio for a day of experimentation. As we’re halfway through the 2013 program, the young artists have encountered many points of inspiration generated from countless sources. This particular interaction provided fascinating results that reflected the diverse perspectives of this ETW group.

“…it’s more about [my] experience and the process of making things.”—Lorna Simpson

Bundles and "Spirit Sticks"

Inside Shinique Smith's Studio

  • Photo: Naima Keith

Artist Shinique Smith is in the process of relocating studios. The space reminded me of something along the lines of large thrift store filled with vibrantly colored textiles, clothes, and miscellaneous curiosities. Perhaps the moving process added to the delightful cacophony of the place, contributing to a sense of movement that is equally felt in her paintings filled with dizzying swirls, psychedelic colors and often accessorized with a range of found objects from Hostess cupcake boxes to Chik-fil-A bags to plastic corn stalks.

Inside William Villalongo's Studio

  • Photo: Naima Keith

“When I’m making a painting I don’t want to feel like I’m writing a thesis,” said William Villalongo on a warm July afternoon in his Brooklyn studio. As curatorial interns, we were thrilled to begin our week not-so-silently shadowing Assistant Curator Naima Keith on a studio visit. Villalongo, a Cooper Union trained artist and Yale lecturer in the painting and print department, surprised us with the variety of work in his studio. Though diverse, his pieces were united by an imaginative rather than a strict, formulaic process.

In the Studio with Jack Whitten

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  • Assistant Curator Naima J. Keith and Jack Whitten
    Photo: Geneva Dampare

  • Jack Whitten
    Photo: Geneva Dampare

  • Jack Whitten's Studio
    Photo: Geneva Dampare

  • Geneva Dampare and Jack Whitten
    Photo: Naima J. Keith

On a chilly winter afternoon, Assistant Curator, Naima J. Keith and I dropped in on world-renowned and revered abstract artist Jack Whitten. Intent on leaving the bustle and chaos behind in Manhattan, Jack converted an old firehouse on a quiet street in Woodside, Queens into his studio 9 years ago.

As we stepped into his spacious main room that has been arranged as part gallery/workspace on one side and living/domestic space on the other, our eyes were immediately drawn to a wall covered with photographs, posters, bones, and wood pieces. He began telling us about his love for deep sea fishing and Crete, which is where many of the skeletons arranged throughout the workspace came from. There was an image of Nkisi Power Figures from Kongo, which were the root of inspiration for all of the impeccable wooden sculptures that Whitten has been creating since the 1960s.

In the Studio with Jack Haynes

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  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes


Jack Haynes draws pictures. After graduating from high school in 1999, he spent two years at Illinois State University studying illustration before moving to Chicago to pursue his passion, hoping that a career would soon follow. As a freelance designer, he has designed stationery, logos, invitations, books, and other printed matter for several companies. He loves comics and hopes to author and illustrate his own one day. On Friday afternoon, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jack Haynes, pick his brain and flip through his sketchbook. 

Your work spans a plethora of different media, what kind of artist would you classify yourself as?

It's difficult to truly feel like an artist of any medium at 30 with so much to still learn and do. I have put the most study into human figure illustration and painting.

How do you describe your style?

Studio Visit: Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum

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  • Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum
    I imagined it infinite, 2009
    Courtesy the artist

  • Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum
    (having lost), 2009
    Courtesy the artist

Born in Mochudi, Botswana, multidisciplinary artist Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum has at times called various parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and the United States home. Motivated by her experiences in these diverse locales, Sunstrum explores how one’s sense of identity develops within geographic and cultural contexts. Her investigation takes various forms, including large-scale installations, stop-motion films, performances, and works on paper. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and she currently lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland.

Your work chronicles the journeys of “Asme,” your alter ego. What led you to develop this character?