At the Studio Museum, Lorraine O’Grady Portrays Harlem as Art

THE DAILY PIC: In 1983, African-Americans are shown their artistic potential.


THE DAILY PIC (#1396): For some reason, the best shows at the Studio Museum in Harlem often happen in the room at the back of its basement. Right now, the room is full of photos, like this one, from Lorraine O’Grady’s Art is…, a performance done as part of the African-American Day parade in Harlem in 1983.

O’Grady infiltrated, or appropriated – or simply participated in – the parade, with a troupe of 15 performers who held gilded frames up for Harlem’s residents to look through, and to see themselves in.

O’Grady collected a pile of photographs taken by parade onlookers and participants, and those shots are now on view in the museum. They document a sense of challenge and threat (and budding self-confidence) among artists of color at the time. But also sheer joy at the prospect of making and showing and seeing art, even when art’s frames have yet to be filled with images. (Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York, © 2015 Lorraine O’Grady/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York)

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