Last weekend I visited the Studio Museum in Harlem to see the exhibition Bearden 100, a centennial tribute to the great 20th century artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988). What I saw was the 3rd and final installment of Bearden 100. It closes October 21, 2012.
I promised to write about the Bearden 100 exhibition in a previous blog about a Bearden workshop I lead on August 5, 2012 at the Newark Museum titled Conjur Woman: Portrait in Collage – inspired by the artist Romare Bearden.
The workshop was offered in conjunction with the exhibition Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections at the Newark Museum (closed August 19, 2012).
The image above is by Romare Bearden and titled Conjur Woman. It was completed in 1964. It’s only 9×7 inches, and was created with snippets from newspapers and magazines such as Ebony and the Saturday Evening Post.
Bearden turned his tiny collage into a huge black and white print (called a Photostat). The Newark Museum had small works and large prints on display. The large black and white Conjur Woman Photostat is in the collection of the Studio Museum.
Read more about the meaning of the Conjur Woman and more about my workshops.
22 ARTISTS AT THE STUDEO MUSEUM IN HARLEM
Here’s a link to see images of the 22 works at the Museum. The link is from the Bearden Foundation.
I was drawn to several works.
One was a figure by Elia Alba titled Portrait of a Young Girl, 2012 (see the image below).
It’s a 3D figure in a prayer-like pose. She wrote: It wasn’t just Bearden’s collage, but his merging of cultural and artistic practices that left the strongest impression on me.
I really liked a collage by Noah Davis titled The Frogs (2011) seen below.
It looks like collage with many magazine papers and fractured faces (it’s definitely inspired by Bearden media and technique).
I was drawn to a mixed media 3D work by Xenobia Bailey, titled Endless Love: Conjur Kit, 2012 (see below).
I love the fact that the artist named her work Conure Kit – maybe she is inspired by all the Conjur Women in Bearden’s oeuvre.
The artist wrote: I love the continuum that his (Bearden’s) collages have to African-American quilt-makers and musicians. Mr. Bearden constructs everything in his artwork as if he is patching together the idea of the New African in North America.
See #66: Bearden, In the Garden 1974 (image below). It includes red striped fabric on a figure, and abraded painted papers.
The Bearden image was selected by Tanekeya Word, a visual artist living in NYC.
See her mixed media work (below) titled Pretty Dope-a-licious Cameo #11, acrylic paint, gouache, watercolor, acrylic ink, gold leaf, embroidery, floss, pastels, latex paint on watercolor paper, 2012.
Willie Cole selected the collage by Bearden, #57 Gospel Song 1969 (below) It includes multiple pieces of abraded papers, a gray background, and shows what Bearden did to his media to create unique surface texture. It also shows how he used pieces of papers to create a sense of dimension, texture, and rhythm.
Willie Cole, a Newark, NJ artist, said he selected this work because it sang to him when he saw it.
See his work tiled Sole to Sole (below). Cole works with found media and creates/constructs metaphor about race in prints, sculpture and other media.
Cole describes himself: Today I am a Perceptual Engineer. I create new ways of seeing old things. and by doing so inspire new ways of thinking. I’ve also been described as an Ecological Mechanic, a Sacred Clown, a Transformer, the hardest working man in Shoe Business, The Original Iron Man, formerly known as the Dog Man, and once known as Vincent Van Black.
Willie Cole is one of my favorite contemporary artists.
More BEARDEN 100
The Studio Museum plans to extend the Bearden Project. They say:
The site will be frequently updated with new participating artists, sharing their story of inspiration and will include a high-resolution image of their artwork. We hope you’ll share your own artwork, stories, and comments with us by email.
Romare Bearden was involved in founding The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Cinque Gallery (initially funded by the Ford Foundation). Bearden and 2 other artists – Norman Lewis and Ernest Crichlow – established Cinque to support younger minority artists.
Bearden helped found the Black Academy of Arts and Letters in 1970. He was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1972.
He is recognized as one of the most creative and original visual artists of the 20th Century. He worked in many different media, including painting and printmaking, but is best known for his richly textured collages