Musings on the modern and contemporary visual culture of the African Diaspora.

BAHM | 2.1.18 | Thelma Golden

BAHM | 2.1.18 | Thelma Golden

Installation view of Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in American Art at the Whitney Museum, 19494.

Above: Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

The first curator featured is Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, an institution devoted to visual art by artists of African descent. She began her career as an intern at the museum in 1987, the same year she graduated with a B.A. in Art History and African American Studies from Smith College. A year later she became a curator at the Whitney Museum, and over the course of a decade, organized many exhibitions, most notably Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in American Art in 1994. This groundbreaking exhibition examined the complex visual production and representations of black men, post Civil Rights era.

In 2000, Golden returned to the Studio Museum as Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Programs. She is credited, along with longtime friend, artist Glenn Ligon, for coining the term ‘Post-Black’ in her exhibition Freestyle in 2001. This term is is used to categorize a new generation of artists who rejected the tokenism of being labelled a “black artist” while their work is deeply committed to examining the complexities of blackness.

Artist Jordan Casteel (left) and Thelma Golden in Casteel's studio.

Our relationship is grounded in a shared love of absurd uses of language, and our conversations, both serious and silly are always full of made-up and misused words and phrases. ‘Post-black’ was shorthand for a discourse that could fill volumes. For me, to approach a conversation about ‘black art,’ ultimately meant embracing and rejecting the notion of such a thing at the same time.
— Thelma Golden

First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden during a tour of the Studio Museum in Harlem, in New York, N.Y., Sept. 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

In 2005, Golden succeeded Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims as Director. Golden has received honorary doctorates from the City College of New York, San Francisco Art Institute, Smith College, and Moore College of Art and Design. In 2010 she was appointed by Barack Obama to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, for which she served until 2016. She continues to be an active guest curator and lecturer, frequently giving talks, interviews and conversations with artists internationally.

BAHM | 2.2.18 | Jamillah James

BAHM | 2.2.18 | Jamillah James

Black Art History Month

Black Art History Month