For Education Initiative, Studio Museum in Harlem Places Reproductions of Works in Its Collection in Neighborhood Schools and Libraries

Jordan Casteel, Kevin the Kiteman, 2016.


The Studio Museum in Harlem has launched a new initiative titled “Find Art Here,” which will see reproductions of works from its collection go on display at public schools, libraries, and service centers across Harlem. The museum began installing these reproductions at the end of September at the initiative’s participating organizations, who collaborated with the museum to choose the works.

The eight partner institutions are P.S. 36 Margaret Douglas School, P.S. 79 Horan School, the Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School, the AHRC Fisher Center, the Countee Cullen Library, Park East High School, the Harlem Library, and P.S. 154 Harriet Tubman Elementary School. They will host work by artists that the museum has supported throughout its history, including Derrick Adams, Benny Andrews, Jordan Casteel, Elizabeth Catlett, LeRoy Clarke, Glenn Ligon, Mickalene Thomas, and Stephanie Weaver.

From its early days, the Studio Museum has been involved in using its holdings to reach its surrounding neighborhood, and the “Find Art Here” initiative represents the museum’s latest effort to connect Harlem’s denizens and its work. The museum, which has temporarily closed its West 125th Street home as it prepares to break ground for its new David Adjaye–designed building, also currently has three exhibitions open across Upper Manhattan as part of its “inHarlem” series, including solo shows of Maren Hassinger at Marcus Garvey Park and Firelei Báez at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

“ ‘Find Art Here’ renews and deepens our relationships in one of the best ways possible, by bringing our collection into the lives of our neighbors, right where they are,” the Studio Museum’s director, Thelma Golden, said in a statement. “We have always been a point of contact between extraordinary artists of African descent and the Harlem communities that we’re proud to serve.”

Reproduction of Benny Andrews, Composition (study for Trash), 1971, on view at P.S. 79 Horan School.


The initiative also includes programming intended to incorporate conversations about the the Studio Museum reproductions into the curriculum of Harlem schools, including visual arts lessons and hands-on arts making.

Andrews’s 1971 Composition (study for Trash), which is now on view at P.S. 79, presents a crowded scene in which the black figures in the foreground of the composition gaze from behind a drawn curtain at a scene of a white Lady Liberty perched atop a globe, held up by three faceless brown bodies. In the center of the globe, a cutout shaped like the United States offers a view of three figures pulling on strings. Behind the globe is a seemingly infinite crowd of mostly white onlookers. The reproduction is installed in an area at the school that has ample open space for contemplation and art-making. According to Jennifer Harley, the Studio Museum’s school and educator programs coordinator, the reproduction was placed at the school so that students can respond to the work by seeing it over an extended period of time.

“The school’s administration and its students are really excited to think about current events in connection with this piece and what it means to have such a political work by such a politically active artists in the school space,” Harley told ARTnews by phone last week. Some of those student creations will also go up in the surrounding space, Harley said, to show the various “ways that students are thinking about the world around them and the political climate around them, as high school students but also many of the students at this school have a range of disabilities, different types of special needs, so also thinking about how that be a political barrier as well.”

Other notable connections include a reproduction of work by Casteel, who lives in Harlem, at the Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School, where she had previously worked with second-grade students last year. At Park East High School, Glenn Ligon’s oil stick-on-paper text-based work I Found My Voice (1990) will spur students to make connections not only with visual arts–related themes but also with literature, historical texts, and social studies.

“A big part of this project is thinking about how to connect to what’s already happening in these schools,” Harley said. “There’s a lot creatively already happening in these spaces and a lot of other types of academic pursuits.”

“This project is an interesting opportunity to think about what it means to live with a work of art for a long period of time, what this continued access to this work of art opens up for these partners,” she added.

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