Around Town

Gulu Real Art Studio: Martina Bacigalupo

1 of
  • 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.

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.

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! 

Permanent Collection Highlight

Sonia Boyce: Untitled, 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.

Continuing in the Spirit

Holding Court at The Studio Museum in Harlem

1 of
  • 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.

Marvelous Dandies

Allison Janae Hamilton presents her foppish subjects in lush landscapes

1 of
  • 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

1 of
  • 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

1 of
  • 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

1 of
  • 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.