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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.

Printmaking with Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School

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  • 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.

On Location

Curatorial Intern Margo Cohen Ristorucci checks out Jacolby Satterwhite's latest project, Grey Lines

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  • 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.

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”.

Books and Authors, Kids! Presents

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin A. Ramsey

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  • 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.

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)

Who is Mimi Plange?

Curatorial Fellow Monique Long highlights Harlem-based designer Mimi Plange

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  • 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.

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.

The Long Road: Bill Traylor

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  • 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.

Stephen Burrows: Clothes that Danced

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  • Installation view of Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced
    Museum of the City of New York
    March 22, 2013—July 28, 2013

    Photo: Monique Long

  • Installation view of Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced
    Museum of the City of New York
    March 22, 2013—July 28, 2013
    White lettuce edged chiffon billowed over the exhibition.
    Photo: Monique Long

  • Wrap Top Pants Suit, 1970s
    Jasco matte jersey, lettuce edge
    Label: Stephen Burrows’ World
    Photo: Monique Long

  • Coat, 1977
    Merrow-edged wool melton
    Label: Stephen Burrows’ World

  • Tunic Dress, 1977
    Natural chamois banded in gilt metallic snakeskin
    Label: Stephen Burrows’ World
    Photo: Monique Long

  • Burrows was a master draper who made sexy, fluid, body conscious ensembles that permitted no underpinnings whatsoever.
    Photo: Monique Long

  • A Stephen Burrows sketch with his signature lettuce edge.

  • Pat Cleveland, the designer's muse

A career retrospective of the fashion designer Stephen Burrows opened at the Museum of the City of New York this spring and has been the most current highlight in the over 40-year career of a designer who has seen many highlights.