I grew up in Southern California, and though I had friends who’d take seasonal vacations to mountains—to Big Bear, to Lake Tahoe—my family was never really the cabin dwelling type. I’ve never snowboarded; I have not ever skied. In this absence, “the slopes” have existed solely in my imagination, simultaneously magical and frightening to me, and probably the both because of their mystery; there’s a certain kind of appeal to uncertainty.
I am not entirely sure what I’m looking at in Suspended (2010)—it’s not even a ski lift, perhaps it’s the tracing of a monorail, but I know that seeing the painting brings me to this place of haze. The scene is all shrouded, muted and blurred, and I'm asking where am I, exactly, in this landscape?
Appreciation of an artist, like anything in life, is generally a matter of perspective: Perspective on the artist's thoughts and ideas, identifying their clever arrangement of color or play on words, even a sense of connection to the story they are presenting.
Save for her eyes and their slight edges, the seated artist in Kerry James Marshall’s Untitled painting (2009) is consummately Black. Her skin’s shade blends into the mass of dark hair resting atop her head as though she were dipped in night’s pigmentation, clothed, and placed on this chair. She is of a full-bodied, concentrated coloring; each inch of her skin coated in darkness.
In an interview with Kerry James Marshall for the Yale Daily News, writer Ah Joo Shin notes this propensity for Black skin coloring, asking Marshall the inevitably loaded question of “what ‘Black’ means to [him].” Marshall articulates this preference for Black as a matter of message: “I use it because it’s the most powerful rhetorical device because it operates at the extreme,” he replies. “And since I’m trying to make images that portray the maximum amount of power that [they] can, that’s why the Black is most effective…” [YDN]
The Studio Museum wrapped up its last in-school residence this month, after a year of meaningful, successful school partnerships. One of the highlights this year was our partnership with Dorothy Day Head Start Center in Harlem through Cool Culture’s Literacy Through Culture program.
Raised by his art-loving mom, Abdi Farah (b. 1987) was introduced to the arts at an early age. Growing up in Baltimore, a city with a rich artistic and cultural presence, he recalls being around art all the time. Farah remembers visiting art galleries and institutions such as the Walters Art Museum (formerly the Walters Art Gallery) and the Baltimore Museum of Art. His earliest memories of making art are when he went to work with his mom, a college professor and sat in a quiet corner to draw with markers and crayons. “I grew up always drawing,” he says. “That’s kind of who I was.” This love of drawing manifested into a skill and passion that led him to attend the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology High School, where he focused on studio art. It wasn’t until he won the NAACP ACT-SO Gold Medal in painting that he realized how much artistic talent he had, and that he could be an artist for a living. Prior to this realization, Farah was certain he was going to play professional basketball, a huge part of his adolescence. “My buddies and I worshipped it,” he says.