Looking Back: History on Paper
As a Curatorial Intern at the Studio Museum in Harlem, it has been exciting to work behind the scenes as part of the planning process of exhibitions supporting the Museum’s mission as a site for the dynamic exchange of ideas about art and society. One of my favorite moments during my internship happened when I first glimpsed into the archives of earlier exhibitions that have happened here. Brochures, pamphlets, and other didactic materials used in promoting the exhibitions on view are meant to be taken by visitors for additional information, but are not necessarily made to be kept. The ephemeral nature of these materials, often printed on paper and easily recyclable, means that they are not often saved long enough to be able to review at a later period.
The flyer for The Sound I Saw: The Jazz Photographs of Roy DeCarava (1919-2009) has a simple layout that frames DeCarava’s photograph with a deep wine color and the title of the exhibition. As an Undergraduate student in the Art Department at Hunter College, where I was a student of DeCarava's, I was fascinated with his stories of Harlem and his early love for jazz. The flyer is successful in its simplicity that also has an ability to unwrap memories from different moments in time.
Examining the physical material available in the archives is a reminder of the shift in information sharing from analog to digital over the past several years at art institutions and more broadly. Looking back at the way these informative materials were designed using bold colors and a singular image of either an artist or their artwork, I felt like I was transported to a different moment in time, with the lasting historical importance and influence of the Studio Museum as an institution becoming blazingly clear.
Click through the slideshow above to check out some of the goodies I came across.