Curatorial Fellow Monique Long on Fashion in Harlem and Art
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.
A Day with 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
Inside Shinique Smith's Studio
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.
“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.
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.
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?
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?
Ronak K. Kapadia
Office Hours is a new feature in Studio magazine and on the web that engages artists, scholars and organizers on the application of critical knowledge and theory.
Ronak K. Kapadia is a PhD candidate in NYU’s American Studies program. He is currently writing his dissertation on creative responses to state security, immigrant detention, surveillance, and the U.S. empire since the late 1970s.
Legendary performance/visual artist and avant-garde “drag superstar,” Vaginal Davis, has been interrogating notions of theater, performance, blackness and queer politics since the 1980s. Davis recently performed her critically acclaimed show at P.S. 122, Vaginal Davis Is Speaking from the Diaphragm, which uses a talk-show format and a set design channeling “kindergarten occultism.” Read a brief interview with the artist after the jump.
On May 14, I sat down with recent University of Pennsylvania MFA graduate Jacolby Satterwhite for a post-studio, studio visit. Using the core elements of his practice—a laptop and two portable DVD players—Satterwhite showed me a body of work still in progress, complex and unresolved. His projects, which center on his own body, cross various media, high and low culture, public and private space, and real and virtual environments. “Living in a liminal space is important to me,” he said. “That’s the only way I’m going to break boundaries and do different things, not just become a commodity.”