The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
Harlem is the center of African-American culture. Being a Harlem native, I know this is a neighborhood built on a rich and remarkable history that spans decades. One recent afternoon, I took some time to reflect on this neighborhood's tradition and beauty (all through the lens of my smart phone)! As I stepped outside I was immediately enveloped by the hustle and bustle of 125th Street.
I made my way up to 145th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd. and commenced my mini photo tour through Harlem. As I was taking photos, the memories of the Harlem I used to know came flooding back to mind. It finally dawned on me how much Harlem has physically changed!
I realize now more than ever that I should appreciate the things that are familiar all the while accepting changes that are for the better. Feel free to check out some photos from my day in Harlem!
Former Studio Museum in Harlem artist-in-residence, Terry Adkins, brings together thirty years of work for his new installation at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.
The works of art in Recital pay homage to the legacies of Bessie Smith, W. E. B. Du Bois, John Brown, Matthew Henson and John Coltrane, among others. Adkins’s creative research sheds light on lesser-known aspects of their biographies, such as Jimi Hendrix’s military training as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, or the question of Beethoven’s Moorish ancestry. In his sculpture, photography, and video, Adkins transforms and re-purposes a range of found materials, archival imagery, and reclaimed actions in a process that he calls potential disclosure.
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.
Gordon Parks: 100 Years at the International Center of Photography
In June, I visited the International Center of Photography to view Gordon Parks: 100 Years, an ambitious hundred-year retrospective of Gordon Parks’s photography. The exhibition celebrates the centennial birth of the multitalented photographer and filmmaker. I arrived from the museum’s south side. After a few minutes of searching, I was guided to the gallery’s north side to a massive window display. Behind the display was a 20-by 13-foot mural of Parks’s Emerging Man. Three monitors were placed in front of the image, each shifting through various Parks photographs.
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30 Americans is the perfect primer for both budding and established aficionados of contemporary African-American art. Based on the Rubell Family Collection's 2011 show by the same name, the expanded second edition of 30 Americans actually includes work by 31 artists. The misnomer speaks to the ever expanding core of influential black artists in the U.S. The artists included range greatly in subject, time period, and medium from William Pope.L to Mickalene Thomas to Carrie Mae Weems to Rashid Johnson. Insightful essays tracing common threads of influence and exploring the subtle transition from artists of African descent to artists of America, as well as changing definitions and receptions of black art, bind the works together and provide a framework for meaningful understanding. Its breadth, generously sized full-color plates, and affordable price make 30 Americans a must have.
Available for purchase in the Museum Store.
"Communicating with Shadows" Series
In "Communicating with Shadows," New York-based artist Derrick Adams selects iconic photographic documentations of performances by post-war artists including Bruce Nauman, Adrian Piper, Senga Nengudi and David Hammons. He projects these images, adding slight animation and a soundtrack composed by Ramon Silva, then improvises in front of them, casting his own shadow over the original images. Adams uses mass-produced objects as props and costumes to create what he calls “an attempt to channel the original performances' essence and intention.” Animating the original live action, Adams transforms still photographs into the conceptual building blocks and interactive sets of his performances.
Performed on May 4, 2012 at The Studio Museum in Harlem.
Like all normal people, I hate public speaking. No one can avoid the performance anxiety that comes with rows of faces watching you squirm as you try to sell them something clever. But why be an artist then, since artists are in many ways always speaking to a public about what is dearest to their hearts? Of course the “voice” of the artist and ordinary speech act are different things. The former is developed and exercised mostly in the private quarters of a studio, while the latter is a universal attempt at getting at signification. Both of these voices, or rather any voice, according to Lacanian theory (I hope you are happy Liz!), is “everything in the signifier that does not partake in the effect of signification.” This is so because it is only through the structure of both lexicon and syntax that intention of signification registers. This obviously means that the voice does not partake in this structure, thus it is a remainder.
Interview with Benjamin Barson
On Friday, June 22nd, Katrina De Wees, Education Assistant at The Studio Museum in Harlem, sat down with Benjamin Barson, Production Manager at Ginny’s Supper Club Red Rooster Harlem, to discuss his most recent project, in collaboration with Arturo O’Farrill’s Grammy Award Winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and El Museo Del Barrio.
Katrina De Wees: Can you start with an introduction of yourself?
In Hands On: Photography – Preserving Legacy students participated in a project that documented their family and communities over the course of a week. In this two-part workshop, photographer and educator Jamel Shabazz shared his work, discussed his art-making philosophy, and offered practical and technical direction for taking photos. Shabazz guided students in an invaluable project that preserves the legacy of what is important to them through photography.