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Studio Museum's latest presentations off-site but in-the-neighborhood
Firelei BŠez: Joy Out of Fire (installation view) On view at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, May 1–November 24, 2018 Presented by The Studio Museum in Harlem. Photo: John Lusis.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Studio Museum in Harlem announced the opening of two projects in its inHarlem initiative: a series of off-site but in-the-neighborhood collaborations designed to deepen the Studio Museum’s roots in the community through exhibitions, conversations, art-making workshops, and more at a variety of partner and satellite locations. The inHarlem series was inaugurated in 2016 and will ramp up as the Studio Museum proceeds to construct its new building, designed by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with Cooper Robertson.

The inHarlem exhibition Firelei BŠez: Joy Out of Fire is on view from May 1 through November 24 in the Latimer/Edison Gallery at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Outdoor sculptural installations organized through inHarlem in Marcus Garvey Park, titled Maren Hassinger: Monuments, will be on view from June 16, 2018–June 10, 2019. Both exhibitions are organized by Hallie Ringle, Assistant Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum, said, “As we move toward the start of construction on our new home, we’re very proud to be working with partners in our community to present new work by remarkable artists of two generations. Maren Hassinger, who has been associated with the Studio Museum since 1984, will be creating the most recent of her powerful, site-specific, nature-based sculptures in Marcus Garvey Park through our collaboration with the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance and NYC Parks. Firelei BŠez, who first exhibited with us in 2012, will create a new suite of her deeply involving works, based on research conducted at the Schomburg Center and then shown in that same institution. We are grateful to the artists, our partner institutions, and our generous supporters for enabling us to engage our community with these exhibitions.”

For Firelei BŠez: Joy Out of Fire, the artist created imaginative portraits—“visual road maps,” in her words—celebrating the complex histories of notable black women of the United States and the Caribbean who made their mark on the twentieth century as artists, authors, activists, entertainers, educators, and public officials.

Working closely with NYPL Schomburg Center staff, BŠez has researched the lives of women whose archives are housed at the Schomburg Center, such as Maya Angelou, Jean Blackwell Hutson, and Ada “Bricktop” Smith, and has explored additional archival holdings to find insights into other figures, such as Oprah, Maritcha Remond Lyons, and Shirley Graham Du Bois. The results are as many as a dozen intricate new works, which incorporate materials such as reproductions of archival photographs, notes, diaries, letters and manuscripts.

Although the works evoke the lives of individual women— especially women whose stories BŠez wants to bring out of obscurity—the works are not portrait likenesses in the conventional sense. Rather, the ensemble creates a celebratory space in the gallery of the Schomburg Center, imparting something of the joy that these extraordinary women brought out of the fire of their lives, as they shared their concerns and ideas and gave one another support and inspiration across the generations.

Maren Hassinger: Monuments will take the form of eight sitespecific sculptures installed for one year in Marcus Garvey Park, beginning June 16, 2018. Working in the tradition of her earlier projects such as Wreath (1978), Hassinger will use branches to create forms that respond to aspects of the park’s landscape—an outcropping of rock, a rectangle near flower beds, an oval near the pool. A Harlem resident who regards Marcus Garvey Park as her neighborhood green space, Hassinger will create the works with the assistance of volunteers from the Studio Museum’s Teen Leadership Council and Expanding the Walls program, so that Monuments will be a project made in Harlem and for Harlem.

Hallie Ringle said, “We’re reaching across the generations, and across both indoor and outdoor space, to present these projects by Maren Hassinger and Firelei BŠez with the collaboration of our wonderful partner institutions. These new inHarlem exhibitions touch on themes of community, creative energy, respect for the earth, and histories both told and untold. Thanks to everyone who has joined with us, we are thrilled to be able to reach out to our neighbors in Harlem through these exceptional projects.”

Novella Ford, Associate Director of Public Programs and Exhibitions at the Schomburg Center, said “The Schomburg Center is excited to partner with the Studio Museum to bring Firelei BŠez’s work to our patrons. The inHarlem program is quickly turning into an ongoing creative partnership, with artists finding inspiration for new creative works in our extensive archives. What began with Derrick Adams: Patrick Kelly, The Journey now continues with Firelei BŠez’s project, allowing us to expand our work in advancing public knowledge of the global black experience in new and innovative ways.”

Connie Lee, President of the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance, said, “Our collaboration with the Studio Museum on the first inHarlem project with the installation of Simon Leigh’s extraordinary sculptures raised the experience of Marcus Garvey Park to a new level for everyone in our community. We are proud that such a distinguished artist as Maren Hassinger, with her great sensitivity to the natural world, is now creating works that will deepen our visitors’ connection to the park’s beloved landscape.”

“Parks is pleased to partner with The Studio Museum in Harlem once again, bringing public art to Marcus Garvey Park,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “We are honored to be a part of the Studio Museum’s golden anniversary celebration and we look forward to presenting this profoundly meaningful group of works by Maren Hassinger to the surrounding communities and visitors to the park.”

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