Actions Speak Louder than Words


Expanding the Walls (ETW) is an eight-month photography-based program at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Recent alum Lily describes how she and fellow 2017 ETW participants had the opportunity to meet future Studio Museum artist in residence Sable Elyse Smith during their time in the program.

Sable Elyse Smith
Landscape II, 2017
Neon, 108 x 14 inches
Courtesy the artist

We took a field trip to the Brooklyn Museum where we visited the exhibition We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85. There were many inspiring artists whose works depicted the experiences that women of color faced throughout the twentieth century. These artists communicated a very powerful message in their works.

Afterwards, we visited Sable Elyse Smith at her studio in Recess organization’s Assembly space. We looked at her artwork and she talked to us about her practice and experiences. Her artwork portrays the relationship that she has with her father and the issues involved with mass incarnation. It was very inspiring to see how she was able to draw on her own experience to tell her story and give a voice to her father, making him present and active in her work. We were also able to see a preview of her book—it was interesting to see how she used pictures, repetition, and text to further develop her work.

Sable is a down-to-earth and open person. She is inspiring in the way that she was able to use her experience to help herself and others, rather than being a bystander. This motivates me to use my experience in my work in order to tell a unique story. Sable was able to achieve and accomplish so much because of her determination and willpower.

Sherry, an ETW participant said, "Sable inspires me in copious ways. Getting the opportunity to meet such an amazing artist is incredible." I absolutely agree with Sherry. It was such an honor and amazing experience to see how artists like Sable approach their artwork in different ways.



— Lily, Expanding the Walls ‘17

My name is Lily. I’m from Brooklyn, New York. I love painting and math. Currently, I go to Fiorello LaGuardia High School in Manhattan where I pursue my love for the arts. My goal is to utilize photography to broaden my knowledge on different art materials and to help raise awareness on controversial issues.

2017 Expanding The Walls participants with artist Sable Elyse Smith

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