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The Studio Museum in Harlem Summer 2011 Exhibitions and Projects
Emma Amos, Two Standing Women, 1966. Courtesy the artist © Emma Amos/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

NEW YORK, NY.- This summer, past and present converge is at the Studio Museum in three exhibitions of innovative art spanning the last half-century. Spiral: Perspectives on an African-American Art Collective features artworks from members of the Spiral art collective, founded by artists including Romare Bearden, Charles Alston, Norman Lewis and Hale Woodruff and active from 1963 through 1965; Evidence of Accumulation debuts brand-new work by the 2010–11 artists in residence Simone Leigh, Kamau Amu Patton and Paul Mpagi Sepuya, who have been working in the Museum’s studios for the last year; and Lyle Ashton Harris: Self/Portrait presented a selection of large-format Polaroid photographs portraying Harris’s friends, family, colleagues and self from 1998–2008.

Also on view as it is, as it could be: Expanding the Walls 2011, the annual exhibition of young artists enrolled in the Museum’s acclaimed high school photography program; a new series of Harlem Postcards by Senetchut M. Floyd, Phillip Pisciotta, Tribble & Mancenido and Genesis Valencia; a special edition of StudioSound created by Kamau Amu Patton and an installation in the Museum Store by 2007–08 artist in residence Saya Woolfalk. These exhibitions opened to the public on Thursday, July 14, 2011 and will be on view through Sunday, October 23, 2011.

Spiral: Perspectives on an African-American Art Collective took as its starting point a 2010–11 exhibition of the same name organized by the Birmingham Museum of Art. Spiral was a New York–based collective of African-American artists that came together in the 1960s to discuss their relationship to the civil rights movement and the shifting landscape of American art, culture and politics. The group included artists Emma Amos, Romare Bearden, Reginald Gammon, Alvin Hollingsworth, Norman Lewis, Richard Mayhew, Merton D. Simpson and Hale Woodruff, among others.

This presentation at The Studio Museum in Harlem brought together work featured at the Birmingham Museum of Art with selections from the Studio Museum’s permanent collection and select local loans. The Studio Museum presentation of Spiral was organized by Assistant Curator Lauren Haynes in collaboration with Emily G. Hanna of the BMA and was accompanied by a full-color brochure with contributions by Haynes and Hanna.

Evidence of Accumulation features work by three artists with varied visual and conceptual interests who worked in diverse media, including ceramics, photography and sound. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Studio Museum has produced a brochure featuring essays on Leigh, Patton and Sepuya by Uri McMillian, George Lewis and AA Bronson, respectively, with an introductory essay by Lauren Haynes, who organized the exhibition. Although there are few visual similarities between the works of these three artists, the artwork on view provides examples of their strong shared interest in collected histories and the amassing of processes and ideas. Whether Leigh’s collecting of tobacco leaves, Patton’s mining and sorting of intangible digital information or Sepuya’s gathering of his peers, their artwork is a testament to the importance of accumulation as a practical and conceptual device.

Over the past ten years, Lyle Ashton Harris has created a series of over 200 intimate, sepia-toned portraits termed “Chocolate Polaroids,” capturing each sitter’s face and back. Self/Portrait, organized by Exhibition Coordinator and Program Associate Thomas J. Lax, assembles over a dozen of these works in an exhibition examining the artist’s long-standing interest in self-portraiture, performance and intersecting communities. Shot in a studio outfitted for the large-format Polaroid camera in SoHo, Manhattan, the photographs on view demonstrate the series’ formal and stylistic range.

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