J'Adore: The Studio Museum in Harlem

Dawit L. Petros, Proposition 1: Mountain, 2007

I love the Studio Museum in Harlem, located on 125th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Like the Michener Museum in Doylestown, Pa, the Studio Museum is a perfect example of the idea that smaller can be better.

The Columbia Spectator reports on the Flow show, on exhibit until June 29, 2008. The art serves as a point/counter point to my Journal writing about celebrities raising concerns around problems in Africa.

“Africa is often illustrated in mass media and popular culture through images of warfare, disease and poverty, as well as through celebrities who travel there and philanthropic efforts,” reads the information placard describing the exhibition. While poverty and conflict do remain in the background of much of the artwork displayed, the artists have definitely succeeded in revealing a very different image of Africa than that disseminated by the likes of Jeffrey Sachs and Angelina Jolie. Here, the viewer is able to see an Africa through a creative lens that illuminates aspects of African culture and identity often ignored by mass media.

“Flow” features artwork from a variety of media—including the traditional forms of photography, painting, and sculpture—but many of the most striking pieces use more modern media such as video installations. There are a number of videos by Michele Magema, who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and lives and works in Paris. In her video “Overseas Stories,” a woman dressed in white walks down a road arranging white flowers in a path behind her, while the people around pay no attention to her actions. The flowers are intended to resemble the fleur-de-lis, the French