Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem


LeRoy Clarke (Trinidad and Tobago) and Isaac Lucien (whose parents hail from St. Lucia), are among the artists of Caribbean background included in “Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem,” a major traveling exhibition created by the American Federation of Arts (AFA) in collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem. The Studio Museum in Harlem’s associate curator Connie H. Choi curated the show. The inaugural venue for the exhibition will be The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco from January 16 through April 14, 2019.

Artists in the MoAD exhibition include: Terry Adkins, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Dawoud Bey, McArthur Binion, Chakaia Booker, Mark Bradford, Jordan Casteel, LeRoy Clarke, Noah Davis, Beauford Delaney, Melvin Edwards, Meschac Gaba, David Hammons, Lyle Ashton Harris, Barkley L. Hendricks, Juliana Huxtable, Steffani Jemison, Isaac Julien, Titus Kaphar, Seydou Keïta, Norman Lewis, Glenn Ligon, Kalup Linzy, Tom Lloyd, Whitfield Lovell, Kerry James Marshall, Adia Millett, Wangechi Mutu, Kori Newkirk, Otobong Nkanga, Odili Donald Odita, Chris Ofili, Jennifer Packer, Howardena Pindell, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Jacolby Satterwhite, Malick Sidibé, Shinique Smith, Henry Taylor, Alma Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Bill Traylor, James VanDerZee, Nari Ward, Carrie Mae Weems, Stanley Whitney, Jack Whitten, Kehinde Wiley, William T. Williams, Fred Wilson, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.


Description: Black Refractions surveys close to a century of creative achievements by artists of African descent and is the first traveling exhibition in twenty-five years to reveal the breadth and expansive growth of the Studio Museum’s permanent collection. MoAD’s showing of the exhibition includes over sixty works by nearly fifty artists across all media dating from the 1920s to the present.

The landmark exhibition explores the vital contributions of artists of African descent, proposing a plurality of narratives of black artistic production and multiple approaches to understanding these works. Such an ambitious, multifaceted project is uniquely possible through the use of the Studio Museum’s collection. Through its pioneering exhibitions, public programs, artist residencies, and bold acquisitions, The Studio Museum in Harlem has served as a nexus for artists of African descent locally, nationally, and internationally since its founding in 1968.

The traveling exhibition is an important initiative created to share The Studio Museum in Harlem’s collection with audiences throughout the country during the closure of its galleries, as the Museum prepares for the construction of its new home, designed by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with Cooper Robertson. MoAD is pleased to be the first venue on the exhibition’s national tour that includes Gibbes Museum of Art (SC), Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (MI), Smith College Museum of Art (MA), Frye Art Museum (WA), and Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UT).

Black Refractions is curated by Connie H. Choi, Associate Curator, Permanent Collection at The Studio Museum in Harlem. MoAD’s presentation is organized by Emily Kuhlmann, Director of Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs, MoAD. [. . .]

Black Refractions is accompanied by a new publication of the same title co-published by the American Federation of Arts and Rizzoli Electa. The richly illustrated volume includes essays by Connie H. Choi and Kellie Jones; entries by a range of writers, curators, and scholars (among them Lauren Haynes, Ashley James, Oluremi C. Onabanjo, Larry Ossei-Mensah, and Hallie Ringle) who contextualize the works and provide detailed commentary; and a conversation among Choi, Thelma Golden, and Jones that draws out themes and challenges in collecting and exhibiting modern and contemporary art by artists of African descent.

[Image above: Top: Juliana Huxtable “Untitled (Psychosocial Stuntin’),” 2015; bottom: Isaac Julien, “Western Union: Small Boats,” 2007]

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