Day 131: How art gives shape to cultural change

If Thelma Golden, curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, were to write a book, it would be called, ‘Artists who have led to my exhibitions.’
In her role at the museum, Golden wanted to reinvent the space as a think tank where people could ask questions and artists who had created new places could exhibit.
Harlem is a unique place, Golden tells is, in that it looks both backwards and forwards at the same time as remaining in the present. What some would see as a home for many black Americans has undergone a renaissance over the years. The Studio was formed in the late 1960s out of a protest movement, with the aim of promoting artists of African descent.
When curating exhibitions, Golden is amazed by how discussions of race can move to areas she’d never imagined, facilitated often by art. She aims to answer several questions, including what it means to be African American today. Examples of the works displayed in the Studio Museum are shown in this talk. The collection, ‘Black Male,’ for example, looked at race and gender in American art through examining black masculinity.
In 1975, Muhammed Ali gave a statement at Harvard University, in which he was asked to recite a poem. His poem was two words; ‘Me: We.’ Art can provide similarly profound statements on the individual and community.


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