New York: The Studio Museum in Harlem opens its summer season of exhibitions


Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Flora

NEW YORK, NY.- The Studio Museum in Harlem opened its summer season of exhibitions and projects celebrating the work of multiple generations of modern and contemporary artists of African descent.

This season, the exhibitions focus strongly on the achievements of two venerated artists working in abstraction— the late painter Alma Thomas, and master sculptor Richard Hunt—while also showcasing the diverse approaches of an emerging generation with this year’s artists in residence Jordan Casteel, EJ Hill and Jibade-Khalil Huffman. Also on view are the photographs of the high-school-age artists who have participated in this year’s Expanding the Walls program, and the latest installment of the Museum’s signature Harlem Postcards series.

Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, said, “Whether presenting a long-awaited exhibition of the visionary Alma Thomas, offering a focused look into lesser-known aspects of the celebrated sculptor Richard Hunt, delving into a range of contemporary concerns and formal issues with our artists in residence or looking at Harlem through the fresh eyes of our Expanding the Walls participants, these exhibitions will immerse Studio Museum visitors in the depth, complexity, nuance and vigor that run through the work of generations of artists of African descent.”

Summer 2016 exhibitions and projects are on view from July 14 through October 30.

Tenses: Artists in Residence 2015–16
The Artist-in-Residence program is at the core of the mission of The Studio Museum in Harlem and gives the institution its name. Since the Museum’s founding in 1968, more than one hundred artists in residence have created and shown work in the studios and galleries.

In the latest of its annual exhibition from the Artist-in-Residence program, titled Tenses to suggest the range of shifting possibilities in the artists’ practices, the Studio Museum presents recent works by painter Jordan Casteel (b. 1989), and multimedia artists EJ Hill (b. 1985) and Jibade-Khalil Huffman (b. 1981).

The six large-scale paintings by Casteel—an extension of the investigations she has been pursuing for several years into the complexity of black male identity—use vibrant, textured colors to capture the spirit of the vendors who operate every day on the sidewalks of West 125th Street. EJ Hill’s installation A Monumental Offering of Potential Energy has a platform stage and a scaled-down wooden roller-coaster track as its central elements, suggesting the highs and lows, thrills and terrors, of life. Hill’s work is activated by the presence of the artist’s body, which is intended to rest there, inertly, throughout the exhibition, as a meditation on the space of queer black bodies. Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s installation is a complex layering of photo-based inkjet prints, video and sculpture, challenging the viewer’s normal understanding of visual perception while creating strategic overlaps between the digital and the analog, the projected and the real.

Tenses: Artists in Residence 2015–16 is organized by Amanda Hunt, Assistant Curator.

Richard Hunt: Framed and Extended
Chicago-based sculptor Richard Hunt (b. 1935) is best known for his public commissions sited in more than 125 parks, schools and public areas across the nation, including the intersection of 125th Street and Morningside Avenue in New York, where the abstract forms of his Harlem Hybrid (1972) seem to draw together elements of the surroundings while creating a dynamic environment of their own. His work has been the subject of many exhibitions, including The Sculpture of Richard Hunt (1971) at the Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago and Growing Forward (1996) at The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame.

Richard Hunt: Framed and Extended explores three lesser-known but integral aspects of Hunt’s art—printmaking, small-scale sculpture and wall sculpture—that share a vocabulary with the public commissions and express the same sense of lightness and vitality. The exhibition’s title, drawn from one of Hunt’s wall sculptures, testifies to the artist’s practice of sculpture as the three-dimensional counterpart to drawing.

The exhibition brings together some seventeen works that span Hunt’s career. These range from the bold, angular lines of his print Untitled (1965, collection of The Studio Museum in Harlem) and the sweeping, gestural combination of abstracted organic forms and hard-edged geometry in the freestanding Hybrid Form #3 (1970) to his Wall Piece Two and Wall Piece Seven (both 1989) and the recent freestanding Spiral Odyssey II (2014).

Richard Hunt: Framed and Extended is organized by Lauren Haynes, Associate Curator, Permanent Collection, and Hallie Ringle, Assistant Curator.

Color in Shadow: Expanding the Walls 2016
The Studio Museum’s Expanding the Walls program, founded in 2001, is a photography-based residency for young emerging artists enrolled in high schools or GED programs in New York City, providing them with workshops with a diverse group of arts professionals, intensive instruction in the techniques of digital photography, opportunities to build community and a culminating exhibition. Each eight-month residency is based on the young artists’ investigation of the work of James VanDerZee (1886–1983), the iconic chronicler of Harlem life, whose archives are housed at the Studio Museum.

The fifteen young artists in the 2015–16 program took an interest in particular methods of VanDerZee’s practice such as his use of hyperreal studio backdrops and etching notes on his negatives. They were also drawn to the performative and conceptual strategies of other photographers, including Xaviera Simmons, Christina de Middel, Miguel Luciano and Roy DeCarava. The resulting exhibition, Color in Shadow, reflects the young artists’ fascination with these formal aspects of photography, while also testifying to their close attention to the nuances of visual life in Harlem and other New York City neighborhoods.

Color in Shadow: Expanding the Walls 2016 is organized by the 2016 Expanding the Walls participants with Gerald L. Leavell II, Expanding the Walls/Youth Programs Coordinator, Adeze Wilford, Curatorial Fellow and Doris Zhao, 2014–16 Curatorial Fellow.

Harlem Postcards
Harlem Postcards Summer 2016 is the latest installment in an ongoing project that invites contemporary artists to reflect on the many sides of Harlem: as a site of cultural activity, political vitality, visual stimulation, artistic contemplation and creative production. This season, Harlem Postcards features photographs by Alannis Alba, John Jennings, Miatta Kawinzi and Nontsikelelo Mutiti, whose images, both intimate and dynamic, reflect the idiosyncratic visions of artists from a wide range of backgrounds and locations. Each photograph has been reproduced as a limited-edition postcard and is available free to Studio Museum visitors.




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