Works by Alma Thomas, Simone Leigh, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye


IT WAS A GREAT DAY IN HARLEM, a celebration of two important women in art—Alma Thomas (1891-1978) and Thelma Golden. The artist and the director of the Studio Museum in Harlem were both born Sept. 22. Thomas would have been 125. To mark the milestone, the Studio Museum, which is currently presenting an exhibition of Thomas’s paintings and drawings, had a birthday party. The special breakfast and exhibition viewing was hosted by Golden.

The gathering, on the first day of fall, was a birthday celebration and so much more. It kicked off an art season that is shaping up to be a rewarding one for black female artists, curators and scholars.

Early that morning, the MacArthur Foundation announced its 2016 fellows. Art historian and curator Kellie Jones and Baltimore-based bead artist Joyce J. Scott were among the 23 selected to receive MacArthur “genius” grants. That evening, Julie Mehretu‘s new exhibition opened at Marian Goodman Gallery in Chelsea. “Hoodnyx, Voodoo, and Stelae” features new paintings and a new monograph will be published to coincide with the exhibition. In addition, Mehretu covers the latest issue of Cultured magazine.

Speaking of magazines, curator Sarah Lewis guest-edited the summer issue of Aperture magazine. “Vision & Justice” explored the African American experience through photography and was so popular that it sold out. After a second printing, more copies of critically recognized issue became available this month, just in time for “Vision and Justice: The Art of Citizenship,” Lewis’s exhibition at Harvard. “Examining the contested relationship between art, justice, and African American culture from the 19th through 21st century in the United States,” the show reflects the Aperture issue and complements a course she teaches. Lewis also curated “Race, Love, and Labor” at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, including artists Endia Beal, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Deana Lawson, and Xaviera Simmons.


aperture no 223 summer 2016
Curator Sarah Lewis guest-edited a special issue of Aperture magazine exploring the African American experience through photography and has organized a related exhibition currently on view at Harvard.


Also on the newsstand, Smithsonian magazine dedicated its September issue to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. The special edition was published with four different covers, two of them featuring the work of black female artists—Amy Sherald and Lorna Simpson. Sherald won first prize in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and her work is on view with the other finalists at the National Portrait Gallery in the “The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today.” Known primarily for her photography and video work, Simpson’s exhibition of new paintings opened earlier this month at Salon 94 Bowery.

A monumental event, the African American museum finally opened on the National Mall last Saturday with a grand-scale ceremony featuring President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. From the beginning, Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director of the museum, has played major role in shepherding it forward. Conwill served as director of the Studio Museum from 1988-1999. Jacqueline Serwer, chief curator of NMAAHC, and curator Tuliza Fleming have assembled an impressive collection of early works, modern and contemporary art at the groundbreaking institution, including paintings by Thomas, Simpson and Sherald, and many other women artists, on view in the inaugural exhibition “Visual Art and the American Experience.” Previously, Serwer was chief curator of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (1999-2006).

The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute has moved and the Oct. 15 grand opening at its new home in East Harlem will feature a three-part exhibition co-curated by Lowery Stokes Sims (formerly of the Museum of Arts and Design and Studio Museum, where she served as director, 2000-2005) and Yasmine Ramirez. Titled “Home, Memory, and Future,” the inaugural exhibition includes artists Nicole Awai, Dawoud Bey, Bianca DeJesus, Abigail DeVille, Chester Higgins, and Whitfield Lovell, among others.


The Oct. 15 grand opening of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in East Harlem will feature a three-part exhibition co-curated by by Lowery Stokes Sims and Yasmine Ramirez. | via CCCADI


Meanwhile, an impressive next generation of curators is making its mark. Lauren Haynes, who curated the Thomas exhibition at the Studio Museum is taking on a new role as curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. The Studio Museum’s annual artists-in-residence exhibition is curated by Amanda Hunt and features the work of Jordan Casteel, EJ Hill, and Jibade-Khalil Huffman. Exploring black male identity, Casteel’s paintings have garnered critical attention.

Last month, Jamilah James was appointed curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA). Formerly, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, ICA LA is expected to open in Spring 2017. Also in Los Angeles, earlier this year, Naima Keith was named deputy director of the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles. This fall Keith is presenting her first exhibitions at CAAM, “Hank Willis Thomas: Black Righteous Space” and “Genevieve Gaignard: Smell the Roses.” All four curators have connections to the Studio Museum.

And in Atlanta, the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a new exhibition, “Africa Forecast: Fashioning Contemporary Life,” co-curated by Andrea Barnwell Brownlee and Erika Dalya Massaquoi.

Fall is full of many opportunities to see and support the work of important artists and curators. In addition to the presentations mentioned above, Simpson, Betye Saar, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, have multiple solo exhibitions on view this season. A selection of 28 one-woman shows follows. CT


Njideka Akunyili Crosby %22Super Blue Omo,%22 2016 - Victoria Miro Gallery
For her first solo exhibition in Europe, NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY is presenting a new body of work, including “Super Blue Omo,” 2016 (acrylic, transfers, coloured pencils, collage on paper). | Collection of the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Image of courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Njideka Akunyili Crosby

1. “NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY, Portals” @ Victoria Miro Gallery, London | Oct. 4–Nov. 5, 2016

This is the gallery’s first solo exhibition with SADIE BARNETTE, who was an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum (2014-15). Shown, “Untitled (Painted FBI Page 4 Detail),” 2016 (spray paint on white paper mounted to black rag paper). | via Jenkins Johnson Gallery

2. “SADIE BARNETTE: From Here” @ Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco | Sept. 15-Oct. 29, 2016

Featuring more than 200 works, this is the most comprehensive exhibition of BEVERLY BUCHANAN (1940-2015) to date. Shown, Detail “Untitled (Double Portrait of Artist with Frustula Sculpture),” n.d. (black and white photo with original paint marks). | Private Collection, © Estate of Beverly Buchanan via Brooklyn Museum

3. “BEVERLY BUCHANAN: Ruins and Rituals” @ Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, N.Y. | Oct. 21, 2016-March 5, 2017

SONYA CLARK, Detail of “Writer Type,” 2016 (found typewriter and artist’s hair). | Courtesy Sonya Clark

4. “Follicular: The Hair Stories of SONYA CLARK” @ Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Va. | Oct. 1, 2016-May 14, 2017

GENEVIEVE GAIGNARD, “Compton Contrapposto,” 2016 (chromogenic print). | Courtesy the artist and Shulamit Nazarine Gallery, Los Angeles

5. “GENEVIEVE GAIGNARD: Smell the Roses” @ California African American Museum, Los Angeles | Oct. 19, 2016-Feb. 12, 2017

JENNIE C. JONES, “Recording Red, Gray Distortion (for Elvin Jones),” 2016 (acoustic absorber panel and acrylic paint on canvas). | via Sikkema Jenkins

6. JENNIE C. JONES @ Sikkema Jenkins Gallery, New York, N.Y. | Sept. 8-Oct. 8, 2016


For her first solo museum exhibition in Los Angeles, SIMONE LEIGH is presenting a recent body of work, including “Untitled V (Anatomy of Architecture series),” 2016 (terra cotta, porcelain, manganese, 14k gold luster, raffia, India ink, epoxy). | Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York via Hammer Museum

7. “Hammer Projects: SIMONE LEIGH” @ Hammer Museum, Los Angeles | Sept. 17, 2016-Jan. 8. 2017

This solo exhibition includes new works by SAMELLA LEWIS and features a conversation with the artist at the gallery on Oct. 1. Shown, “Contemplation,” 2016 (oil on canvas). | via Stella Jones Gallery

8. “SAMELLA LEWIS: Evolution” @ Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans | Oct. 1-Nov. 30, 2016

The exhibition features new paintings and drawings by JULIE MEHRETU, along with “Epigraph, Damascus,” 2016, a six-part photogravure and etching (left). | Installation view via Marian Goodman Gallery

9. “JULIE MEHRETU: Hoodnyx, Voodoo, and Stelae” @ Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, N.Y. | Sept. 22-Oct. 29, 2016

JAIMIE MILNER is presenting “Gifted,” her series of portraits of black men for the first time in a solo exhibition. Shown, “Bradford Young,” Cinematographer, Los Angeles | Photo by Jaimie Milner, Courtesy the photographer

10. JAIMIE MILNER: “Gifted” @ Residency Art, Inglewood, Calif. | Oct. 1-Nov. 5, 2016

ZANELE MUHOLI, “Bester II, Paris,” 2014. | © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery via National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

11. ZANELE MUHOLI: Personae @ FotoFocus 2016, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, Ohio | Oct. 1, 2016-Jan. 23, 2017

Installation view of EBONY G. PATTERSON, “If We Must Die…,” 2016. | Image courtesy of Savannah College of Art and Design via SCAD MOA

12. “EBONY G. PATTERSON: If We Must Die…” @ Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Museum of Art, Savannah, Ga. | Sept. 2, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017


The gallery is presenting a two-part survey of Betye Saar’s work over the past half century (1966-2016). Shown, BETYE SAAR, “Game of Fate,” 2016 (mixed media assemblage). | via Roberts & Tilton

13. BETYE SAAR, “Black White” and “Blend” @ Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles | Sept. 10-Dec. 17, 2016 and Oct. 15-Nov. 12, 2016

For her first-ever exhibition in Italy, BETYE SAAR is presenting more than 80 works, in a range of mediums, from 1966-2016. Shown, “The Phrenologer’s Window II,” 1966. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles. Photo Robert Wedemeyer | via Prada Foundation

14. “BETYE SAAR: Uneasy Dancer” @ Prada Foundation, Milan, Italy | Sept. 15, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017

Working primarily in photography and video, this exhibition of new paintings explores a new direction for LORNA SIMPSON, first introduced at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Shown, “Detroit (Ode to G.),” 2016 (India ink, acrylic, and screenprint on Claybord). | Courtesy Salon 94

15. LORNA SIMPSON @ Salon 94 Bowery, New York, N.Y. | Sept. 8–Oct. 22, 2016

This is the first museum exhibition to feature the LORNA SIMPSON’s large-scale acrylic, ink, and silkscreened paintings. Shown, “Moveableness,” 2015 | via The Modern, Fort Worth

16. “FOCUS: LORNA SIMPSON” @ Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas | Nov. 19, 2016-Jan. 15, 2017

MARTINE SYMS, “Notes on Gesture,” 2015 (HD Video). | Courtesy the artist via Audain Gallery

17. “MARTINE SYMS: Borrowed Lady” @ Audain Gallery, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada | Oct. 13-Dec. 10, 2016

ALMA THOMAS, “Stars and Their Display,” 1972 (acrylic on canvas). | Private Collection, Highland Park, IL; Courtesy Studio Museum in Harlem

18. ALMA THOMAS @ Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, N.Y. | July 14-Oct 30, 2016


MICKALENE THOMAS, “Do I Look Like a Lady? (Comedians and Singers),” 2016 (video stills, two-channel HD video projection, 12 minutes, 33 seconds). | © Mickalene Thomas / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong via Lehmann Maupin

19. “MICKALENE THOMAS: Do I Look Like a Lady?” @ Museum of Contemporary Art, Grand Avenue, Los Angeles | Oct. 16, 2016-Feb. 6, 2017

MICKALENE THOMAS, “Clarivel with Black Blouse and White Ribbon,” 2016 (rhinestones and acrylic on wood panel). | Courtesy of the artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

20.” MICKALENE THOMAS: the desire of the other” @ Lehmann Maupin Gallery, Hong Kong | Nov. 18, 2016-Jan. 14, 2017

XAVIERA SIMMONS, “Denver,” 2008 (color photograph; edition of 3). | Courtesy David Castillo Gallery

21. “tete-a-tete,” Curated by MICKALENE THOMAS @ David Castillo Gallery, Miami Beach, Florida | Nov. 30, 2016-Jan. 31, 2017

The exhibition presents three of KARA WALKER’s narrative portfolio series, “The Emancipation Approximation” (1999–2000), “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War: Annotated” (2005), and “An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters” (2010). Shown, “African/American,” 1998 (linocut, edition 22/40). | via Bellevue Arts Museum

22. KARA WALKER, “Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power” @ Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, Washington | July 8-Nov. 17, 2016

The exhibition features new large-scale drawings by KARA WALKER influenced by time spent in Rome earlier this year. | Photo by Ari Marcopoulos via Cleveland Museum of Art

23. KARA WALKER, “The Ecstasy of St. Kara, New Work” @ Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio | Sept. 10-Dec. 31, 2016

CARRIE MAE WEEMS, “The Shape of Things,” 1993 (gelatin silver print, Edition 9 of 10, with 2 artist proofs). | Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery

24. “Carrie Mae Weems: I once knew a girl…” @ Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. | Sept. 20, 2016-Jan. 7, 2017

This is CARRIE MAE WEEMS first exhibition with the gallery in more than six years. Works on view will include “Blue Notes (Claudia),” 2014 (archival inkjet print with silkscreened color blocks). | © Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

25. CARRIE MAE WEEMS @ Jack Shaiman Gallery, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 29-Dec. 10, 2016

SAYA WOOLFALK, Detail of “Chimera,” 2013 (installation at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts). | Photo by John White, 2013. Courtesy of the artist via SCAD MOA

26. SAYA WOOLFALK @ Savannah College of Art & Design Museum of Art, Savannah, Ga. | Oct. 13, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017

LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE, “The Locks,” 2016 (oil on linen). | via Corvi Mora

27. “LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE: Sorrow For A Cipher” @ Corvi Mora Gallery, London | Sept. 9-Oct. 8, 2016

Lynette Yiadom-Boayke Works on Canvas
This is LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE’s first exhibition in Switzerland. Shown, “Complication,” 2013 | Courtesy the artist, Corvi-Mora, London and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York via Kunsthalle Basel

28. LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE @ Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland | Nov. 18, 2016-Feb. 12, 2017

Do you enjoy and value Culture Type? Please consider supporting its ongoing production by making a donation. Culture Type is an independent editorial project that requires countless hours and expense to research, report, write, and produce. To help sustain it, make a one-time donation or sign up for a recurring monthly contribution. It only takes a minute. Many Thanks for Your Support.