Art Students League to Host ‘Figuring It Out: The Black Body by Global Black Artists, 2010-2020’ a Lecture with Curator, Lowery Stokes Sims




Ficre Ghebreyesus, Red Room, c. 2002-07, Acrylic on canvas, 84 × 72in. Courtesy of The Baltimore Museum of Art. Purchased with exchange funds from the Pearlstone Family Fund and partial gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. © The Estate of Ficre Ghebreyesus. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.

Join Curator and Art Historian, Lowery Stokes Sims, former Executive Director and President of the Studio Museum in Harlem, for the upcoming lecture ‘Figuring It Out: The Black Body by Global Black Artists, 2010-2020’ at the Art Students League on Thursday, February 29th.

During the decade of 2010-2020, the global art world experienced a literal explosion of Black artists from the United States, Africa and the African diaspora working with the Black figure as the focus of their creativity.

The conversation will reflect upon the growing presence of Black artists and black bodies in the contemporary art scene. With an intersectional lens, Lowery Stokes Sims will discuss the growth of representation alongside the continued presence of Imperialism, Colonialism, and violence against marginalized bodies. Praising the depth and variety of figuration, the conversation will find the balance between subjects that are personally-charged and culturally responsive.

Lowery Stokes Sims. Image courtesy Art Students League

This lecture will examine how artists have continued the project of representing black bodies in the global exhibition and market scene, albeit in the context of persistence discourses on imperialism and colonialism, escalating forced migration, state surveillance and violence against black bodies—male, female, gay and transgender—revelations of sexual exploitation and—not incidentally—a global pandemic.

The lecture will demonstrate the dizzying variety of technical and stylistic approaches to figuration, which seem at the same time to reveal tentacles that connect these distinct approaches to the figure that speak of lineages that often cross boundaries and cultures. With this arsenal of modernist attitudes, styles and techniques at their disposal, the question is how each artist chooses to adapt them to depict images that can be personally charged, or culturally-responsive.

About Lowery Stokes Sims ~ Lowery Stokes Sims served on the education and curatorial staff of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1972-99), as executive director and president The Studio Museum in Harlem (2000-2007) and retired as Curator Emerita from the Museum of Art and Design (2007-2015). Over the last few years, Sims has been an independent curator and consultant for the Caribbean Cultural Center, the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Craft Contemporary, Grounds for Sculpture, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She was Visiting Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (2018-2020) and the 2021-22 Kress-Beinecke Professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Figuring It Out: The Black Body by Global Black Artists, 2010-2020 will take place on Thursday, February 29, 2024 from 6:00-7:00pm at the Art Students League, Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery, 215 West 57th Street, 2nd Floor, NYC.

This is an in-person lecture, which will be recorded and added to our Youtube channel following the event.