Julia Phillips’s practice draws from personal space, memory, and subconscious desire, from which she creates tools that relate to the body. Each of her sculptures is an imagined tool, with a title describing the function of the object as well as its potential user. Born in Germany, Phillips completed her MFA at Columbia University prior to her residency at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Before becoming an artist in residence, her work related to the body in a general sense. During her time at the Museum, however, she has shifted her practice to create works related to specific bodies with historical reference, like Saartje Baartman and Josephine Baker.
The New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowship
This year, two participants in Expanding the Walls—an eight-month photography-based program at The Studio Museum in Harlem—were awarded The New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowship. This fellowship grants the recipients with additional professional experience and a scholarship for their postgraduate studies. We are excited to introduce the two fellows: Chess and Donnell. Congratulations!
Here are their responses on receiving The New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowship!
The Studio Museum in Harlem is home to both an incredibly talented curatorial staff and a brilliant educational program, Expanding The Walls (ETW), a group of sixteen teens exploring new territory both intellectually and in their worldviews. The product of these two groups working together is the exhibition Impressions, which is on view July 20–August 27, 2017.
Where We Are
On April 28, 2017, Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960 opened. Organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, with assistant curator Jennie Goldstein and curatorial assistant Margaret Kross, the exhibition takes its title from a line in English-American poet W. H. Auden’s “September 1, 1939.” Auden’s poem, reproduced across one of the gallery walls, was written when German soldiers invaded Poland, marking the beginning of World War II. It conveys the belief that even in seemingly bleak times, there remains hope for humanity.
This month, Expanding the Walls (ETW)—an eight-month photography-based program at the Studio Museum—participants had the opportunity to meet with Ms. VanDerZee, the widow of the late Harlem Renaissance photographer James VanDerZee (1886–1983).
Every year the Expanding the Walls program exposes its young artists to a wide range of artists of African descent, and James VanDerZee’s photography becomes a key inspiration for program participants’ work. VanDerZee tried to see that each photograph documented the person to look better and that is what I consider when clicking that shutter button of my camera. VanDerZee, known for his iconic portraits of 1920s and 1930s middle-class Harlemites, created images of dignity and refinement that helped portray the lives of African Americans.
On June 2, the inaugural Uptown triennial opened with an exhibition at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University. Uptown is a summer-long compilation of exhibitions, art installations, and events featuring contemporary artists living and working north of 99th Street. Organized by Wallach Art Gallery Director and Chief Curator Deborah Cullen, Uptown, which is on view through August 20, acknowledges the longstanding collaborations between upper Manhattan institutions in their shared goal to provide spaces for critical thought and artistic engagement. The new gallery space in the Lenfest Center for the Arts allows for the Wallach to more readily engage with surrounding communities than their previous location on the eighth floor of an academic building.
Prosperity of Perspective
This month, Expanding the Walls (ETW)—an eight-month photography-based program at the Studio Museum—participants had the opportunity to work with Baltimore-based photographer Devin Allen.
Devin Allen’s most recognizable work, the series "A Beautiful Ghetto" (2015)—documenting the Baltimore uprising following the death of Freddie Gray—demonstrates how an image can have the power to unify a community and promote social justice. After presenting his work at the Museum and discussing the impact that his community has had on his life, ETW participants had the chance to walk the streets of Harlem and take photos with Allen.
During the second month of Expanding the Walls (ETW)—an eight-month photography-based program at the Studio Museum—participants received the digital cameras that they’ll use for the remainder of the program.
Receiving my digital camera in ETW last week was an amazing experience. Not only was it fun to have my camera, it finally gave me the tools to transfer my ideas into reality. This means a lot to me because you can only grow to love something by doing it more and more. Getting the camera highlighted my main goal during this program, which is to learn how to work with digital photography. Alvaro, a friend who is also in the program, said, "Getting our cameras was like getting a new pair of eyes, we now see the world from a different perspective."
Autumn Knight, Julia Phillips and Andy Robert
A core component of The Studio Museum in Harlem's mission and history, the Artist-in-Residence program provides each artist with studio space, a stipend and the opportunity to exhibit at the end of the eleven-month residency. Here, 2016–17 artists in residence Autumn Knight, Julia Phillips and Andy Robert share a little bit about their practices and what inspires them.
Well, there was that time that I fell off a basket at a grocery store and blacked out. When I was revived, I told the doctor that I was reaching for the pink cookies. The ones with the frosting and sprinkles. And the time I called a mechanical puppet a “motherfucker” for his poor performance skills at my fifth birthday party. Or the moment I had to respond quickly to why my elementary classmate told me she didn’t like black people. Oh, and the fire.
The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Artist-in-Residence program is a testament to the Museum’s commitment to supporting emerging contemporary artists whose work is inspired or influenced by black culture. The Museum’s community of teaching artists reflects a similar type of engagement. Serving at the intersection of the institution and the public, Museum educators are creative, pedagogical hybrids who navigate the fascinating line between the role of teacher and practicing artist.