Not So Far After All
Lauren Haynes shares her recent Bronx Museum visit
One of my pet peeves is when people use the Studio Museum’s uptown location as a reason for not visiting the Museum very often and missing out on our great programs. So, I’m pretty embarrassed to admit that I use the same excuse for why I don’t go to the Bronx Museum all that often. Although I currently live in Brooklyn, I grew up in the Bronx, so there’s really no excuse for me not to visit my home borough more often. On Friday evening, I made the (quick) 30-minute train ride from the Studio Museum to the Bronx Museum for a panel discussion about Stargazers: Elizabeth Catlett in Conversation with 21 Contemporary Artists.
The panel featured Sanford Biggers (former Studio Museum artist in residence), Renée Cox and Xaviera Simmons (inaugural OFF/SITE artist) in a discussion moderated by exhibition curator, Isolde Brielmaier. Amid a discussion covering many interesting topics, the panelists all talked about their first exposure to Elizabeth Catlett’s work and what it meant for them to be invited to participate in the exhibition. Whether it was from viewing Catlett’s work as a child, or having personal connections to her and her family, or even being first exposed to her work in a non-traditional art setting (including the Basketball Hall of Fame), they all spoke of the connection they felt with Catlett’s themes, her techniques and her extreme attention to detail. The panel then took questions from the packed house that included artists, curators, students, scholars and museum visitors who just wandered in. Although the panel was a one-time-only event, Stargazers is a must-see before it closes on May 30th. In addition to work by Biggers, Cox and Simmons, it also includes work by former Studio Museum artists in residence Kerry James Marshall, Wardell Milan, Wangechi Mutu, Mickalene Thomas and fourteen other fantastic international contemporary artists who work in a variety of media in dialogue with prints and sculptures by Catlett. The exhibition also features two works by Catlett from the Studio Museum’s collection.
My trip to the Bronx was a fun way to spend a Friday evening, not only because I got to hear a fantastic panel discussion and see an amazing exhibition, but because I also ran into people I knew from all over. The evening reminded me, yet again, that no matter how large New York City can seem and how “far” the boroughs may be from one another, NYC is a pretty small town.
- Lauren Haynes, Assistant Curator