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Studio Museum Launches Two New Initiatives: Studio (un)framed and Studio Lab

HARLEM, NY.- The Studio Museum in Harlem announces two new innovations that expand upon the Museum’s founding mission to support artists of African descent, bring art to diverse audiences, and facilitate meaningful dialogue about contemporary art and culture: Studio (un)framed and Studio Lab.

Studio (un)framed is a new commissioning project inviting artists to use the Museum’s magazine, Studio, as a jumping-off point for the creation of an accessible and affordable artist’s multiple. The first incarnation of Studio (un)framed, available exclusively at the Museum Store, is an intervention by 2003-04 artist in residence Dave McKenzie.

McKenzie’s work Fences (2010) is both a physical addendum to the magazine and an investigation into language: the project documents McKenzie’s attempt to learn Chinese, the native language of his neighbor. Fences intersperses six photo postcards throughout fall/winter 2010 issue of Studio and wraps the magazine in a sheet that evokes schoolchildren’s brown-paper textbook covers, but unfolds to reveal McKenzie’s writing on migration, interpersonal communication and the ethical stakes of learning and questioning.

McKenzie says, “I wanted to make a work that showed a process of thinking while also initiating a moment to act. So, the text and the photographs are a way for me to sketch out an artistic position in relation to daily concerns. Even the title, Fences, is less a metaphor for physical borders and more a metaphor for moving past seemingly random occurrences and towards meaningful actions.”

Studio Lab is a hybrid initiative designed for ideas in formation, synthesizing elements from the Museum’s prestigious Artist-in-Residence program, acclaimed public programs and deep commitment to cultural dialogue. This yearlong project invites select multidisciplinary artists and scholars—working locally, nationally and internationally—for a series of discussions and explorations. The form of each investigation is intentionally open-ended, and might encompass a public conversation, a series of brainstorming sessions or the creation of a work of art.

Studio Lab is built on three specific conceptual ideas or platforms: Cultural Specificity, Performance and Making Publics. In addition, a select group of artists are given free rein to identify and develop hypotheses of their own making, including projects that respond to Harlem as a cultural site. London-based painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye was the inaugural Studio Lab participant in November 2010. Over the course of two weeks Yiadom-Boakye took photographs and made sketches of people and places throughout Harlem and New York City, and recorded a conversation about her artistic process with Associate Curator Naomi Beckwith.

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