An ode to

by Curatorial Intern Ciaran Finlayson

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  • Senga Nengudi
    R.S.V.P, 1976–77
    Performed September 10, 2013 at the Grey Art Gallery, NYU
    Photos: © 2013 Nisa Ojalvo

  • Zachary Fabri
    Shiny Shoes, 2013
    Performed November 17, 2013 at The Studio Museum in Harlem on the occasion of Perfoma 13
    Images courtesy Performa
    Photos: © Paula Court

  • Benjamin Patterson
    A Penny for Your Thoughts, 2012
    Performed on The High Line on the occasion of Performa 13
    November 16, 2013
    Images courtesy Performa
    Photos: Chani Bockwinkel

Check out Curatorial Intern's, Ciaran Finlayson, post about, a website designed designed by William B. Marshall in collaboration with Jamillah James, Communications Coordinator at The Studio Museum in Harlem, with assistance from Monique Long, Curatorial Fellow chronicling black contemporary performance art over on our friends at the Walker Art Center's website.

Ellison at 100 Livestream

Watch it here!

Ralph Ellison lived in Harlem from the late 1930s until his death on April 16, 1994. He was a prominent figure in the neighborhood’s overlapping literary and artistic communities. Ellison at 100: Reading Invisible Man honors this legacy through a landmark collaboration between two leading Harlem-based cultural institutions. The participating artists in the program have been specially curated by the Studio Museum and the Schomburg Center teams, following in both institutions’ tradition of exploring Harlem as a site for artistic and literary creation. 

Ellison at 100: Reading Invisible Man is organized by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The Studio Museum in Harlem with the generous support of the Ralph and Fanny Ellison Charitable Trust.


Thelma's Current Exhibition Picks

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  • Lamar Peterson
    The Window, 2010
    Courtesy the artist and Fredricks & Freiser, New York

  • Archibald Motley
    Nightlife, 1943
    The Art Institute of Chicago; Restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Field, Jack and Sandra Guthman, Ben W. Heineman, Ruth Horwich, Lewis and Susan Manilow, Beatrice C. Mayer, Charles A. Meyer, John D. Nichols, and Mr. and Mrs. E.B. Smith, Jr.; James W. Alsdorf Memorial Fund; Goodman Endowment, 1992.89

  • Yinka Shonibare, MBE
    Magic Ladder Kid I, 2013
    Commissioned by The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia
    Image courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York

  • Herbert Gentry
    Dance Turquoise, 1978
    Courtesy Mary Ann Rose/The Estate of Herbert Gentry

Blue Plastic Bubbles: Paintings by Lamar Peterson
On view through April 5, 2014
University Art Museum, SUNY Albany
1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222

Studio Visit

Alexis Peskine

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  • Inside Alexis Peskine's studio
    Photo: Martha Scott Burton

  • Inside Alexis Peskine's studio
    Photo: Martha Scott Burton

  • Alexis Peskine
    Désintégration, 2011
    Courtesy the artist

  • Alexis Peskine
    Liberty Leading, Equality Leaving, 2011
    Courtesy the artist

Artist Alexis Peskine (b. 1979) focuses on questions of national and racial identity, the black body experience, and universal emotions. Peskine moved to the United States to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in 2003 and a Master’s degree in Digital Art in 2004.  He then enrolled in Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) on a Fulbright Scholarship (the first foreign student to be awarded this honor), where he completed his MFA. His influences are wide-ranging, including Kara Walker, Takashi Murakami, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy, as is his approach to art-making and his chosen materials.

Breath and Body

Questions for performance artist Dave McKenzie

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  • Dave McKenzie
    Dave, 2010
    Image courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

  • Dave McKenzie
    Dave, 2010
    Image courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

  • Thomas Lax, Studio Museum Assistant Curator and organizer of Darker than the Moon, Smaller than the Sun, diagrams highlights of McKenzie's history as a performance artist

  • Dave McKenzie
    We Shall Overcome (video still), 2004
    Courtesy the artist

On February 20 and 21, 2014, Dave McKenzie performs his retrospective Darker than the Moon, Smaller than the Sun. The performance is part of the live programs series organized on the occasion of Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, currently on view through March 9, 2014 at the Studio Museum.

Terry Adkins


  • Terry Adkins performing at the Studio Museum
    November 13, 2013
    Photo: Will Ragozzino

The staff and trustees of The Studio Museum in Harlem mourn the tragic loss of a great artist, musician, teacher and performer. Terry Adkins was one of the most innovative artists of his generation, combining a musical and lyrical approach to visual art with a deep investment in the individuals who shaped American history and a fascination with material culture. The Studio Museum is proud to have had a long association with him dating back to his participation in the Museum’s Artist-in-Residence program in 1982–83. His legacy will live on not only through his incredible body of work, but also through the lives and work of the many students he mentored during his tenure as a beloved Fine Arts professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Around Town

Gulu Real Art Studio: Martina Bacigalupo

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  • 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.