The Studio Museum of Harlem Honors Artist Romare Bearden
Today's artists present their Bearden interpetation
The Studio Museum of Harlem openings have increasingly become grand affairs where artists, collectors, curators, and others in the community come to socialize and network against the backdrop of recently installed new work. Last week, the museum was exquisitely abuzz as conversations about the art on the walls filled the space. Under the leadership of museum director Thelma Golden and assistant curator Lauren Haynes the museum unveiled The Bearden Project, paying homage to artist Romare Bearden in honor of his contributions to the art world in what would have been his 100th year.
The exhibition which currently features the works of forty-four contemporary artists, most of whom made new work specifically for this exhibition, is the start of what will be an ongoing centennial celebration. Artists from Faith Ringgold and Kerry James Marshall to Lorna Simpson, Derrick Adams Alison Saar, Mark Bradford, and several others contributed and or created art that spoke to the impact of Bearden’s legacy.
Throughout the year the museum will install the work of 56 more artists, offer tours and talks, and develop an online gallery; all designed to engage and interact with the public by increasing awareness of Bearden as well as the artists in the exhibition.
Artist and former MTV Vee-jay Fred Brathwaite, aka Fab 5 Freddy who lived and painted among the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Lee Quniones, took a moment to view the work and stated “I've admired Romare Bearden's work since I was a child…” he continued, “Bearden’s work, like the best of hip hop music, captures a moment in black urban life. The other artists in the show have fully embraced his influence and have mashed-up, cut, collaged and re-mixed original work that pays homage to Bearden’s style, technique and his historic artistic legacy."
Loop 21 caught up with assistant curator Lauren Haynes and who offered her insights about the exhibition.
Kerry James Marshall
The Woman at the Window, 2011
Loop 21: How long had you been working on putting together The Bearden Project?
Haynes: We had been working on this for at least a year knowing that the centennial was coming up this year, so we started conversations internally, just thinking about how we were going to honor Bearden here at the museum.
Loop 21: How did you select the artists that are in the exhibition?
Haynes: Some are artists that we worked with over the years and some are new artists who we hadn’t had the opportunity to work with yet but we knew were influenced by Bearden. There are many exhibitions of Bearden around the city as well as in other cities right now, and we currently have work of Bearden up here at the museum so we thought it would be exciting for us to work with some contemporary artists whose work shows connections to Bearden’s work. We had a list of various artists, some who were working in collage and some who we knew, as well as some artists who had strong relationships to Bearden when he was alive.
Loop 21: Why did you feel it was important for The Studio Museum to have an exhibition in honor of Bearden and his legacy?
Haynes: Well it’s not just because Bearden was one of the best and well known African American artists but particularly for his relevance to founding the museum in that he was very involved in getting the Studio Museum off the ground in the beginning so this was sort of a perfect moment to pay tribute to that.
Loop 21: What are two things that you want viewers to take away from the Bearden Project?
That Bearden’s impact is long and lasting and manifests itself in many different ways. Another exciting thing is how everyone has interpreted collage in a variety of ways. We have everything from collages as works on paper to sound collages; we also have quick time animation YouTube clips. I would want viewers to take away the open-endedness of creativity that collage can give.
The Bearden Project will be on view at the Studio Museum of Harlem through March 11, 2012. For more information on this exhibition or concurrent exhibitions visit: studiomuseum.org/exhibition/