On this final day of short month granted to celebrating African descended ancestry, I share Thursday's overwhelming haze of glorious endeavors. A challenge to visit three museums seated in different parts of NYC, I met goals to fruition, determined to see what was set out to be seen. It was a most esteemed journey granting influential discoveries and a new crop of artists all over the globe branching out and sharing origin complexities. They've widened the meaning of art- tying creative vision with anthropology, science, and narrative together. Sewed origin threads remain stagnant in my mind, flowing with a fluid poignancy gratifying thoughts and dreams.
I got to New York City at 1:20 PM on Thursday. Missed the earlier bus and would have been there three hours prior. Still, nothing stopped determination to visit three museums. Three. Three before the clock struck 11:10 PM. If I missed the 11:10 Megabus, I would be stuck in chilly NYC until 6AM. Then again, they do have a 24 hour Starbucks/Sephora so....
|Part of a fireman's truck, melted and torn apart by the devastation. Photographs behind document traumatic events of unforgotten 9/11.|
|If you have seen Selma's film poster, a film that has recently crossed the 50 million box office dollar mark, you will know this image and its pivotal meaning.|
|First dilemma. My Metro Card was low on funds. All the machines were "out of order." Thankfully, the nearest station was another walk away. And this station wall paved in dirty shoe imprinted art form naturally caught my attention.|
|I imagined people with purpose, just stamping their damp shoes here, leaving territorial "my feet was here" markers.|
|Juliana Huxtable was definitely queen of the exhibit. First piece that greeted me on the second floor of Triennial: Surround Audience was Frank Benson's "Juliana," a work Huxtable herself posed for. It is sleek, metallic, stylish nude that embraces cultural identity and the world Huxtable invents in her prints and poetry. The braids and partly shaved scalp boldly showcases that hip nod to natural hair movement and the experimentation shouting hello to afro wearers and Poetic Justice braid lovers.|
|She lies casual like a sphinx, curved and arched sophistication seeming like an exotic species arriving fresh off a shell like a Botticelli.|
|Nails of fingers and toes are expertly painted in this sapphire blue.|
|Njideka Akunyili, an inspiration and reason for choosing PAFA as a school to further artistic education, made her presence known in a corner of the second floor. The way she layers color and collage transfers onto canvas is thoughtful and intriguing purpose. Human body and its interactions with surroundings are teased with acrylic and transfers yet she is so wise with precision and perspective that these integrated compositions appear to be realistic sense of space and time. Narrative ties together her personal history of Africa and living in America, blending together separate autobiographical backgrounds into one cohesive replay of past, present, and future. And We Begin To Let Go is a compilation of acrylic paint, charcoal, marble dust, collage, and transfers on paper.|
|The back of Juliana emerged right in front of a captivating CGI video piece.|
|Antoine Catala combines science in Distant Feel, a fascinating, dimly lit E3 (which look the same in opposing directions). Under water sculpture inside an aquarium like infrastructure feature live multi-colored coral breezes through inner fans.|
|Tania Perez Condova's chasing, pausing, waiting is comprised of makeup (blush), cigarette ash, bird droppings, and black marble.|
|Verana Dangler, Namedropping, mixed media and polyester resin.|
|Avery Singer's black and white acrylic paintings both Untitled.|
|In between walking up the floors, viewers were subjected to bright green stairwell and loud music.|
|The memorable fat red caps font dangling over white text imprinted on a denim jacket.|
|Girlfriends is playing. It reminds me of frustration. That frustration of the TV turning digital that forced every American to buy a black box and an antenna.|
|I admit, I almost took one, but these are not to be touched by viewers. Only draws in the longing to open book pages, feel the thin leaflet between hands to read and envision the unseen story floating into imagination.|
|Titus speaking on work created during his Studio Harlem internship back in the early 2000's. And yes that does include a unique rendering of Marie Guillemine-Benoist's Portrait of A Negress, one of my most favorite period paintings of dark skinned women painted by an aristocratic white woman. It is at the Louvre and unfortunately I didn't see this in person while there circa 2009. Anyways, when Titus introduced how The Jerome Project's portrait series came about, it became a larger personal context enlightening perception. Opening my eyes to the new slavery, the New Jim Crow. He spoke rather candidly about not just strained family relationships, but on art school world in general-- that the work he created no one could understood let alone had experienced. Here at Studio Harlem, however, was the necessary audience needed to define this new work, discuss prison systems and affect on families left behind. Each Jerome is a real person, a creation from a mugshot. Titus himself talked at length about his research, his communicating with inmates via letters to receiving a grant to film a documentary based on these interactions. The conversation gets further stimulating, further thought provoking, and moving with Yale instructor Vesla Mae Weaver tossing out cold hard facts about prison. Former imprisoned Mika'il DeVeaux, vice president of Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc and Tina Reynolds, founder of Women On The Rise Telling Herstory (WORTH) speak on finding life after confinement, about motivating others into finding their own paths in a system designed to make them less than a citizen. DeVeaux states the 13th Amendment, " Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." It is duly noted that prison systems are the new slavery, with communities based in low income, uneducated areas where police purposely implant themselves not to rescue but to indict. The conversation stirred quieted repression inside my mind and that of others surrounding me. It was such a gracious end, speaking to the beginning of this trek.|
Tune in next week to see if I squeeze in the Taji Magazine Volume 2 Release Party and Studio Museum of Harlem's Artist Voice with Hank Willis and Leslie Hewitt before taking off to Canada for spring break.
P.S. Dear Webster please make "Herstory" a true, definable word. Tired of the red squiggly line telling me that it isn't so.