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Brooklyn Museum

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brooklynmuseum·a day agoPhoto

In anticipation of the (now virtual) New York Caribbean Week and the annual Labor Day Parade, this August we’re highlighting artworks in the Museum’s collection that celebrate the presence of Caribbean culture and its diasporas.

Where is history housed? In toy sabers, baby dolls, silhouettes of Queens, or in a diamond? Koh-i-noor is one of three portraits by Hew Locke of Queen Elizabeth II that repurposes an iconic image of the British crown through an assemblage of mass produced plastic objects. Locke, who was born in Edinburgh and raised in newly independent Guyana, explores themes of diaspora, globalization, and the complexities of national identity.The title of this artwork refers to the Koh-i-noor (Mountain of Light) diamond which passed through empires and dynasties of Sikh, Mughal and Persia as a symbol of power and conquest. The Koh-i-noor entered the British Crown Jewel collection in 1877 in the wake of the British government’s proclamation of Queen Victoria as the Empress of India. Weaving together the material excess of the global economy and its colonial roots, Locke creates a material geography and archive of something lost. However, the dismemberment and assemblage of the iconic image through fragments also paints a site of possibility. Koh-i-noor invites us to reimagine new landscapes of memory that speak back to and move beyond geographies of domination.

Posted by Akane Okoshi
Hew Locke (Scottish, born 1959). Koh-i-noor, 2005. Mixed media. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles Diamond and bequest of Richard J. Kempe, by exchange, 2007.54. © artist or artist’s estate (Photo: Photograph courtesy of the artist and Hales Gallery)

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brooklynmuseum·2 days agoPhoto

How would you describe the woman in this painting? What might her body language suggest about her or what she is thinking? 

In this painting, we see a woman who has a folded hand placed over her hip, and the other is grasping a bouquet. Her body language suggests she is relaxed and confident. Her head is turned to the right, her eyes looking away from the viewer to somewhere beyond the canvas, and her mouth lifts into a smile or maybe a smirk. She wears a royal blue dress with a flower pattern and a long gold necklace; her outfit reminds me of being dressed in one’s “Sunday best.” Think about what you might wear if you were to have your portrait painted. What would you choose and why? How can clothing help lend someone confidence?

Who is this woman in the painting? We don’t know her name or who she was, but she is most likely a woman that the artist, an African American woman named Laura Wheeler Waring, met while living in Philadelphia. Waring was a prominent artist of the Harlem Renaissance, an artistic explosion of African American creativity and innovation centered in Harlem, New York. 

Although she began her artistic career painting landscapes and still lifes, Waring is best known for the many portraits she painted throughout her lifetime. Her subjects included such prominent civil rights activists and leaders as W.E.B. DuBois, James Weldon Johnson, and Mary White Ovington; such portraits showcased the undeniable accomplishments and dignity of African Americans, and they are often viewed as part of the way in which Waring participated in the early Civil Rights Movement.  Though this painting was completed slightly after the Harlem Renaissance era, it continued to engage with its legacies of African American pride in Black life, culture, and identity, all of which challenged prominent racial stereotypes. Waring’s own paintings, such as this one, countered these stereotypes by portraying working class African Americans as dignified and sophisticated.

Take another look at this painting. What artistic choices contribute to a sense of dignity? What clues are there about the woman’s identity? What details might demonstrate the portrait subject’s own agency? Share your thoughts in the comments and explore works related to the Harlem Renaissance in our collection.

Posted by Alejandra Chino, A.R.T. Guide
Laura Wheeler Waring (American, 1887–1948). Woman with Bouquet, circa 1940. Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Fund for African American Art in honor of Teresa A. Carbone⁠

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brooklynmuseum·5 days agoPhoto

As the COVID-19 pandemic takes a disproportionate toll on Indigenous communities throughout the Americas, we acknowledge this ongoing tragedy while recognizing the strength and resilience of Native people to continue to overcome grave threats to their survival. This theme is the subject of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, organized by the Indigenous Peoples and Development Branch of the United Nations.

This late-nineteenth or early-twentieth century Osage peyote rattle relates to healing and spiritual wellbeing. It was played during Native American Church ceremonies, night-long rituals in which singing is accompanied by drumming and the shaking of rattles. Peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus ritually ingested in tea or dried form, is consumed by participants as a sacrament or healing medicine to communicate with the Great Spirit and promote harmony with the universe. 

Indigenous people continue to adapt to the changing world in which the past informs the present, and Indigenous knowledge remains fundamental in shaping the future. 

Posted by Nancy Rosoff
Osage artist. Peyote Rattle, late 19th-early 20th century. Gourd, glass beads, metal, feathers, brass, sinew, nut or seed, cork. Brooklyn Museum. 

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brooklynmuseum·6 days agoPhoto

In anticipation of the (now virtual) New York Caribbean Week and the annual Labor Day Parade, this August we’re highlighting artworks in the Museum’s collection that celebrate the presence of Caribbean culture and its diasporas.

Hatian-born contemporary artist, Yolène Legrand (@atelier_legrand), sources her inspiration from her travels to her homeland, France, and the United States. Often captivated by color, landscape, and cultural presentation, Legrand’s images range from the mountainous lush of Haiti to cityscapes of the Manhattan skyline. Tete de Femme depicts precisely what the title entails, “the head of a woman,” achieved through the intaglio print method of linocut. The colors in this work suggest a nod to the colors on the Haitian coat of arms, a symbol of the battle of independence for the republic––led by Toussaint Louverture. Such an achievement of independence became foundational to the Caribbean pride seen around the world today, as Haiti was the world’s first Black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean state.

Yolène Legrand Legrand (Haitian). Tete de Femme. Color lino-cut on laid paper. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Vivian D. Hewitt, 2015.14.8.

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brooklynmuseum·8 days agoPhoto

In anticipation of the (now virtual) New York Caribbean Week and the annual Labor Day Parade, this August we’re highlighting artworks in the Museum’s collection that celebrate the presence of Caribbean culture and its diasporas.

On her visit to the Maroon village of Accompong, Jamaica, Zora Neale Hurston remarked, “Here was the oldest settlement of freedmen in the Western world, no doubt. Men who had thrown off the bands of slavery by their own courage and ingenuity. The courage and daring of the Maroons strike like a purple beam across the history of Jamaica.” Today, August 6th, is Jamaican Independence Day. Inspired by Hurston’s work, New York artist Deana Lawson began to travel regularly to the Caribbean. This photograph, from a local beach in Jamaica, shows the traces of a woman who has just left the frame, her towel still damp. Lawson says, “A constant puzzle for me as a photographer is how to depict the visible and how it connects to the unseen.”  

Posted by Forrest Pelsue
Deana Lawson (American, born 1979). Hellshire Beach Towel with Flies, 2013. Pigmented inkjet print. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the artist and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, IL, in honor of Arnold Lehman, 2015.17. © artist or artist’s estate

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brooklynmuseum·8 days agoPhoto

What words would you use to describe these three drawings? If you were to sketch this quickly, what kind of movements might you use to draw it? What is the relationship between the three drawings?

For me the words that come to mind are “swirling” and “floating.” Curving lines fill each of the three panels; each composition extends from the lower left corner to the upper right. When I tried to sketch them, I found I needed large, quick strokes of my pencil to even approximate the fluid lines seen here. 

The Russian Jewish artist, Abraham Walkowitz, was inspired by the choreography of the dancer Isadora Duncan. Duncan was one of the most famous dancers and choreographers in the world in the early 1900s. Her philosophy of dance was a departure from the traditions of ballet, focusing on freedom of movement and expression rather than adherence to what she felt to be rigid and routine techniques. Duncan turned to the natural world for inspiration, as well as philosophy and ancient Greek art. She danced with loose hair, bare feet, and flowing, voluminous garments - all revolutionary in their own right, earning her the moniker Mother of Modern Dance. 

Duncan became the subject of many artists’ interest, but perhaps none more so than Walkowitz’s. Walkowitz saw Duncan dance in 1907 on a trip to Paris and was so captivated by her work that he produced thousands of drawings inspired by her movements. As Duncan never permitted her work to be filmed, many suggest that Walkowitz’s depictions provide the best documentation of the movement of Duncan herself. Look closely again at the sketches, and perhaps try to put your body in each of these three poses. Imagine what movements might link the three together. What might it feel like to move through this sequence?

Allegedly, upon seeing his work, Duncan told Walkowitz, “Walkowitz, you have written my biography in lines without words.” Duncan inspired not only visual artists and other performing artists, but also literary artists. Author Gertrude Stein, too, produced a portrait of Duncan, not in lines, but in words. This work, Orta, or One Dancing, reads in part:

This one is the one being dancing. This one is one thinking in believing in dancing having meaning. This one is one believing in thinking. This one is one thinking in dancing having meaning. This one is one believing in dancing having meaning. This one is one dancing. This one is one being that one. This one is one being in being one being dancing. This one is one being in being one who is dancing. This one is one being one. This one is one being in being one.”

How do Stein’s words reflect the fluidity of movement in Walkowitz’s drawings? What aspects of movement and expression can one medium (drawing, writing, or dance) capture that the others cannot? What is the relationship between visual, performing, and written arts? Share your own reflections in the comments, tag us in your own experiments in movement based on these drawings, and explore more of Walkowitz’s drawings in our collection.

Posted by Christina Marinelli
Abraham Walkowitz (American, born Russia, 1878-1965). Dancing Figure (Isadora Duncan), n.d. Black ink and graphite on cream, medium-weight, moderately textured paper, Sheet (mount). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the artist, 39.473b 

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brooklynmuseum·12 days agoPhoto
Mickalene Thomas's A Little Taste Outside of Love demands we reflect on racialized and gendered representations of being. As we approach this monumental work, we encounter a figure—a Black woman—reclining at center, surrounded by a collage of lush textures. Rhinestones glimmer next to sleek enamel paint. Animal and floral prints dance around the figure who returns our gaze, perched. Who is she? Where is she? How is she feeling? Images ranging from 19th century European paintings to 1970s blaxploitation films enter into dialogue reverberating with the image before us. 

Communities of learners can use this teaching resource to work together to unpack the figures’ gaze, her pose, and the materials that Thomas uses, opening up a conversation about Black women’s representation within a Euro-American art historical canon and power. When do we, as Black women, get to recline and perch? When do we, like her, get to be?

Posted by ray ferreira, Guided Gallery Visit Coordinator 
Mickalene Thomas (American, born 1971). A Little Taste Outside of Love, 2007. Acrylic, enamel and rhinestones on wood panel. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Giulia Borghese and Designated Purchase Fund, 2008.7a-c. © artist or artist’s estate (Photo: Image courtesy of the artist and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, 2008.7a-c_design_scan.jpg)
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brooklynmuseum·13 days agoPhoto

“Visual surprise is natural in the Caribbean,” said the poet Derek Walcott in his 1992 Nobel lecture. “It comes with the landscape, and faced with its beauty, the sigh of History dissolves.” He wondered if his work, rather than evoking the past, could contain “celebrations of a real presence.” This sentiment is embodied in the mission of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizers of the New York Caribbean Week and the annual Labor Day Parade. In anticipation of these (now virtual) events, this August we’re highlighting artworks in the Museum’s collection that explore the complexity of Caribbean identity and celebrate Caribbean culture and its diasporas. 

Catherine Green (American, born 1952). [Untitled] (West Indian Day Parade), 1991. Chromogenic photograph. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the artist, 1991.58.2. © artist or artist’s estate

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brooklynmuseum·14 days agoPhoto

Our online summer campers spent the week collecting items from around their homes to assemble the perfect still lifes and self portraits. Enjoy a selection of drawings and photographs created by these extremely talented young creatives. 

Enrollment is still open for our weekly online Summer Camp classes, and scholarships are still available! Sign up ages 8–10 and 11–13 in classes exploring African masquerade through drawing and textile art, the work of Jeffrey Gibson and other Indigenous artists through painting and sculpture, and the art of JR through drawing and photography.

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brooklynmuseum·15 days agoPhoto

This July, we’re examining how artists in the Brooklyn Museum collection have dissected liberty, as a monument and as a concept, in the context of the United States.

Dindga McCannon, a New York City native, is a self-taught textile and mixed media artist whose art addresses her experiences as a Black woman in America. Active in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 70s, McCannon was one of very few women members of the all-Black Weusi Artist Collective, named after the Swahili word for blackness, and was a founding member of the all-women collective “Where We At” Black Women Artists. Her work is personal, and groundbreaking in the way that she seeks to challenge mainstream narratives of patriarchal, white-centric art by bringing forward her personal and political experiences.. McCannon said of her 1971 Revolutionary Sister, “We didn’t have many women warriors (that we were aware of) so I created my own. Her headpiece is made from recycled mini flag poles. The shape was inspired by my thoughts on the statue of liberty; she represents freedom for so many but what about us (African Americans)?

Posted by Elizabeth Treptow
Dindga McCannon (American, born 1947). Revolutionary Sister, 1971. Mixed media construction on wood. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of R.M. Atwater, Anna Wolfrom Dove, Alice Fiebiger, Joseph Fiebiger, Belle Campbell Harriss, and Emma L. Hyde, by exchange, Designated Purchase Fund, Mary Smith Dorward Fund, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, and Carll H. de Silver Fund, 2012.80.32.

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brooklynmuseum·16 days agoPhoto

Imagine you could open these drawers. Think about the physical aspects of opening them: the act of lifting or grabbing the handle, the amount of force needed to pull it, the feeling of sliding the drawer open. What might be inside each of these drawers? Would they contain similar items or wildly different ones? The entirety of this assemblage is a little taller than a bike, and roughly the same width. Does this size change the way you might engage with the drawers?

This work, titled Chest of Drawers, “You Can’t Lay Down Your Memories,” edition number 45, was designed by Dutch artist Tejo Remy and made by Droog Designs, an informal collective of Dutch designers. There are many iterations of this work, each configured slightly differently and with different drawers held together by an industrial strap or belt. Here twenty drawers of various sizes, shapes, colors, and materials are stacked on top of each other and abutting each other at angles. They don’t fit together neatly and there are open spaces between drawers. 

Each individual drawer was taken from a piece of existing furniture and slotted inside newly constructed wooden boxes; like many quilts, each drawer had a previous “life” before coming together in this piece. Remy himself is interested in memory and sees this work as a metaphor for the “memory system.” 

In many ways, the work offers the viewer more questions than it does answers. What might the relationship be between the phrase in the title (“You Can’t Lay Down Your Memories”) and the artwork itself? What does the size of this work suggest about memory? Does the use of drawers suggest easy access to memories or does it control access to them? Share your reflections on the role of memory in art with art, and compare Remy’s work to other works about memory in our collection.

Posted by Christina Marinelli
Tejo Remy (Dutch, born 1960). Chest of Drawers, “You Can’t Lay Down Your Memories,” edition number 45, designed 1991; made 2005. Maple, other woods, painted and unpainted metals, plastic, paper, textile. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Joseph F. McCrindle in memory of J. Fuller Feder, by exchange, 2005.36. Creative Commons-BY

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brooklynmuseum·17 days agoPhoto

Mini Art Lesson
Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Today’s lesson is inspired by May Wilson, who left rural Maryland and a decades-long marriage to become an artist in New York City at the age of 71. Wilson typically embellished and bedazzled found objects with some relationship to her early life, such as nineteenth-century portraits of women and old-fashioned button-up boots. Through her highly-decorated collages, she addressed issues of sexism, ageism, and the cult of beauty. Follow along as we share step-by-step instructions to create your own collages with ages 2–6 and 7 and up.

FOR AGES 2–6:
LET’S PLAY

Mary Wilson often changed the narrative of a work by adding elements of collage to an otherwise complete work of art. In this lesson, we’ll alter our own images using fun art materials you have at home.

Step 1: Look at the artwork and talk about it with your child. What do you think the artwork is made with? This artwork uses a portrait and fun materials like glitter, mirrors, and red paint.

Step 2: Now, choose a photo! Perhaps one that you really like of yourself, or one from a magazine. Pick an image that you both feel comfortable permanently altering. 

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Step 3: Discuss the household items your child would like to use in their collage. Parents can write this or they can encourage phonetic spelling and pictures as a form of writing. Choose a theme you’d like to explore through your artwork! Here, our friends chose to explore the theme of a party. 

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Step 4: Now alter the original image using the materials you gathered! 

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Step 5: Have your child explain the changes they made and why they made those changes. How does your new artwork make you feel? 

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FOR AGES 7+:
LET’S CREATE

May Wilson’s work is an example of “femm-age,” a combination of “feminist” and “collage” that spoke to women’s ability to transform functional objects into artworks with hidden meanings. For this project, let’s think about how we can transform images by cutting and pasting.

Step 1: First, gather your materials. You’ll need cardstock, magazines, markers, a glue stick, and scissors. 

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Step 2: Now, cut your sturdy cardstock into 4x6 pieces. 

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Step 3: Next, grab a magazine and cut out pictures to use in your collage.

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Step 4: Here are some techniques to try…

Replace one object with another, like human heads with animal heads. 

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Find creative ways to fill space. 

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Mash up two or more images into one. 

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Use a marker to draw or write on your collage. 

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Step 5: May Wilson kept in touch with fellow artists by mailing them collages. This was an easy and inexpensive way to get her art out into the world. Add a stamp and a message and send your finished collage to a friend.

Bonus: Try adding pictures of yourself into your collage.

Posted by Tamar MacKay and Noé Gaytán

Photos from top: May Wilson (American, 1905-1986). Untitled II (Portrait), 1966-1967. Albumen photograph with glitter, round mirrors and red paint. Brooklyn Museum, Emily Winthrop Miles Fund, 2007.11.2. © Estate of May WIlson; For ages 2–6 (Tamar MacKay and Sarah Dinkelacker, Brooklyn Museum); For ages 7+: (Photos: Noé Gaytán, Brooklyn Museum)

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brooklynmuseum·18 days agoPhoto

This July, we’re examining how artists in the Brooklyn Museum collection have dissected liberty, as a monument and as a concept, in the context of the United States.

In 1974, Stevie Wonder’s hit single “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” emerged just two days before Richard Nixon announced his resignation of office. The song houses charged lyrics, vocal accompaniment from the Jackson 5, and instrumental influence from Funk, Jazz, and West African percussion. Such aggregate musical forms heavily influenced artists like Napoleon Jones-Henderson whose weavings and screenprints are self-described as “visual music.” This 1976 screenprint by Jones-Henderson is layered with Black pride references, seen in the tri-color pyramid––a reference to the Pan-African flag. The star-like figures can intend to depict the Ku Klux Klan who was violently against school desegregation and affirmative action in the 1970s.

Jones-Henderson inserts Wonder’s lyrics at the center of the print, while an equally impactful statement is inserted at the far left: a play on The Pledge of Allegiance, Henderson writes “For Which It Stands, It Shall Fall.” Both artists encourage us to question: can the most marginalized communities trust the words of those in power? 

Posted by Jenée-Daria Strand
Napoleon Jones-Henderson (American, born 1943). A Few Words From the Prophet Stevie, 1976. Screenprint on paper. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of R.M. Atwater, Anna Wolfrom Dove, Alice Fiebiger, Joseph Fiebiger, Belle Campbell Harriss, and Emma L. Hyde, by exchange, Designated Purchase Fund, Mary Smith Dorward Fund, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, and Carll H. de Silver Fund, 2012.80.22. © artist or artist’s estate

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This July, we’re examining how artists in the Brooklyn Museum collection have dissected liberty, as a monument and as a concept, in the context of the United States.

Casper Banjo used brick wall imagery throughout his career as a metaphor for social and economic barriers that prevented African Americans from gaining access to full citizenship in American society. To create the illusion of raised bricks, Banjo would build up the surface of a mat board with duct tape, lay a dampened sheet of etching paper over the plate, and then apply pressure to the paper with a common metal spoon to emboss the paper. The black and white handprints in A Black and White Situation not only reference race but also the graffiti aesthetics of Oakland and the East Bay. 

At the age of 70, Casper Banjo was shot by police with an assault rifle while holding a toy pistol. That we do not utter Banjo’s name in our now ritualistic listing of Black people killed at the hands of police speaks only to the mundane frequency of the murder of Black lives. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Casper Banjo. 

Posted by Dalila Scruggs
Casper Banjo (American, 1937-2008). A Black and White Situation, 1976. Mixed media on embossed paper. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of R.M. Atwater, Anna Wolfrom Dove, Alice Fiebiger, Joseph Fiebiger, Belle Campbell Harriss, and Emma L. Hyde, by exchange, Designated Purchase Fund, Mary Smith Dorward Fund, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, and Carll H. de Silver Fund, 2012.80.3. © artist or artist’s estate

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brooklynmuseum·21 days agoPhoto

After five days of art-making, our summer campers closed out the week by sharing their creations in Friday’s online Open Studio. Enjoy a selection of these artworks created by young creatives ages 8–10 and 11–13. These paintings and mixed media artworks were inspired by animals and landscapes in our Asian art collections—from mythical dragons and phoenixes to waterfalls and flowers. 

We have four sessions left of online summer camp, and scholarships are still available! Register today.

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brooklynmuseum·22 days agoPhoto

This July, we’re examining how artists in the Brooklyn Museum collection have dissected liberty, as a monument and as a concept, in the context of the United States.

The legacy of slavery continues to inform how we come to know space and place. Nona Faustine animates erased histories of slavery by using her own body as a medium to connect the present to the past. In this image from her White Shoes series, Faustine situates herself at The Lefferts House in Brooklyn, located in what is now Prospect Park, where stolen and enslaved Africans lived in bondage. The white shoes represent the sexual economy that marked enslaved Black women as commodified flesh—the simultaneous regulation and violation of their reproductive capacity under the system of slavery. 

Posted by Akane Okoshi
Nona Faustine (née Simmons) (American, born 1977). Isabelle, Lefferts House, Brooklyn, 2016. Chromogenic photograph. Brooklyn Museum, Emily Winthrop Miles Fund, 2017.411b. © artist or artist’s estate 

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brooklynmuseum·23 days agoPhoto

Pick one of the figures in this sculpture and do your best to take on their position. How does it feel to be in this position? When have you been in a similar position?

This sculpture incorporates many figures, each with their own distinct expression and position. The largest figure, a woman wearing a Pueblo dress, sits with her legs straight out, her hands resting on her knees, and her shoulders rolled forward a little. Her head is level, but she raises her eyes upwards, towards the vessel balanced on her head. This vessel is a traditional ceramic of the Kah’p’oo Owinge (Santa Clara Pueblo), the Tewa pueblo to which the artist Roxanne Swentzell belongs. Climbing out of this black pot are two much smaller figures. One leans on the rim, looking off in one direction, while the other figure’s head just barely begins to emerge from within the vessel. Below, standing on the shoulder of the woman with a hand resting on her forehead for support, is a standing figure, reaching up towards the two emerging from the vessel. Resting in the crook of the woman’s right arm, is the final figure: while all the other tiny figures are wide-eyed and engaged in their various activities, this figure on the woman’s lap is lounging, turning a contented face upwards as though basking in the sun.

How would you describe the expression of the woman? Is she tired, fatigued by the energy of these small figures? Is she amused and content? Is it something else? Whenever I return to her face, I find a new shade of emotion as she experiences the commotion of the many figures crawling over her. I imagine her holding her breath and watching the vessel wobble as the figures crawl out of it.

The iconography—that of a larger figure with many smaller figures crawling all over—has become a common motif in Pueblo ceramics; it is known as a storyteller figure. The first was created by Ko-Tyit (Chochiti) Pueblo artist Helen Cordero, who made it in the 1960s to honor her grandfather, a renowned storyteller. Swentzell, too, thinks about communication between generations. She has said, “We are the mothers of the next generation and the daughters of the last. Male or female…in the Pueblo world, we are ‘Mothers’ (nurturers) of the generations to come in a world that supports life. It is always good to remember…to nurture life, for it is our work now as it was for our parents and ancestors that came before us and it will become the work of our children.” The very clay the Swentzell uses is a reminder of this as well; she uses locally sourced clay, thus tying it to the land of New Mexico itself. She says, “To have human figures made of clay is in itself part of the theme. We are all from this Mother, all from this Earth: made of her and will return to her… I love the perspective of understanding that we all come from the Earth.” What might it mean to work for life for future generations? How does art become part of that work?

Swentzell also plays with this storyteller imagery in this sculpture, linking the idea of communication from one generation to the next with the act of creating artwork for sale. Swentzell is a renowned sculptor, and her work has been honored at the prestigious Santa Fe Indian Market. Initially, she never considered selling her work. Instead she sees sculptures as an extension of her ability to communicate, like pages in a diary. Now that she does sell her work, she often explores the relationship between Indigenous identity, Indigenous art, and commodification. This particular work is known as Making Babies for Indian Market, a reference to the annual Santa Fe Indian Market. How does the title relate to what we see in the sculpture? What might Swentzell be suggesting about the relationship between creating art and selling it?

How do art, identity, and commodification intersect? What do the implications of these intersections and relationships have for future generations? In what ways are future generations a consideration in your own life or work?

Posted by Christina Marinelli
Roxanne Swentzell (Kah'p'oo Owinge (Santa Clara Pueblo), born 1962). Making Babies for Indian Market, 2004. Clay, pigment. Brooklyn Museum, Gift in memory of Helen Thomas Kennedy, 2004.80. © artist or artist’s estate

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brooklynmuseum·24 days agoVideo

When Congressman John Lewis spoke at the Brooklyn Museum in 2014, he repeated his oft-spoken adage about the importance of arts and culture throughout history: “I’ve said on many occasions: without music, the Civil Rights movement would be like a bird without wings.

Honor the intrepid activist’s life by revisiting his conversation with Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammed about the Civil Rights Movement, the power of culture, and the future of protest. 

This program was originally presented as a part of the exhibition Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties

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brooklynmuseum·24 days agoPhoto

Mini Art Lesson
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

This Mini Art Lesson honors Native American history and culture through the work of the Kwakwaka'wakw, the Indigenous peoples to the Pacific Northwest Coast of the United States. This Baleen Whale Mask was worn to tell the story explaining why whales live deep in the ocean, and involved a very strong, persistent whale character. For this lesson, let’s engage in pretend play with kids ages 2–6 and popsicle puppet crafting for kids ages 7 and up.

FOR AGES 2–6:
LET’S PLAY

This mask was likely worn over the length of a Kwakwaka’wakw chief’s back, covering his entire body. In the spirit of this, we will be creating a story chain to go the length of your child’s back.

Step 1: Talk to your child about their favorite story. For this lesson, Chloe chose Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jason Rosenthal, and her younger brother Davis chose Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson. 

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Step 2: Discuss the main events within the story and have your child retell them by drawing individual scenes. 

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Step 3: Work to put the drawings in chronological order of events within the story. Then, tape the story together in that order. 

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Step 4: Have your child wear the chain of drawings along the length of their back and retell the story back to them using their pictures as a visual. 

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Step 5: Thank you so much to Maria, Chloe, and Davis! We hope you enjoy your stories and artworks as much as we did. 

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FOR AGES 7+:
LET’S CREATE

Step 1: Think of a story that is important in your life. Do you have a favorite book? Or a story from your family? For our lesson, we’ll be using the Kwakwaka'wakw origin story.

Step 2: Make a list of all the characters in that story.

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Step 3: Sketch out what these characters look like on paper. Then, color them in.

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Step 4: Cut out your drawings so that each character is on its own piece of paper.

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Step 5: Now, take a new piece of paper and roll it up. Tape the paper so that it stays rolled up. If you have popsicle sticks or cardboard, you can use this instead to create sticks for your puppets.

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Step 6: Tape your paper or sticks to the back of your characters.

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Step 7: Now you can have a puppet show and tell your story! 

Posted by Tamar MacKay and Noé Gaytán

Photos from top: Kwakwaka'wakw. Baleen Whale Mask, 19th century. Cedar wood, hide, cotton cord, nails, pigment). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1908, Museum Collection Fund, 08.491.8901. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)⁠; For ages 2–6 (Photos: Maria Leto, Brooklyn Museum); For ages 7+: (Photos: Noé Gaytán, Brooklyn Museum)

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brooklynmuseum·25 days agoPhoto

This July, we’re examining how artists in the Brooklyn Museum collection have dissected liberty, as a monument and as a concept, in the context of the United States.

For the Brooklyn Century Vase, Roberto Lugo reinterprets the iconic Century Vase designed by Karl Mueller, which displayed an idealized representation of American identity at the U.S. Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Lugo embraces the over-the-top style of the original—including dynamic gilded eagles and “mounted” porcelain animal heads—but changes what stories are being upheld and celebrated. For example, George Washington’s profile is replaced with portraits of the Notorious B.I.G. and Jackie Robinson. Lugo’s goal isn’t to idealize the borough however. He notes, “Brooklyn, like the United States, has a complicated history, one that should be told—and represented." 

Posted by Forrest Pelsue
Roberto Lugo (American, born 1981). Brooklyn Century Vase, 2019. Porcelain, china paint. Brooklyn Museum, Purchased in memory of Dr. Barry R. Harwood, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Brooklyn Museum, 1988-2018; H. Randolph Lever Fund, 2019.34. © artist or artist’s estate ⇨ Karl L. H. Mueller (American, born Germany, 1820-1887). Century Vase, 1876. Porcelain. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Carll and Franklin Chace, in memory of their mother, Pastora Forest Smith Chace, daughter of Thomas Carll Smith, the founder of the Union Porcelain Works, 43.25. Creative Commons-BY

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