Jun 14, 2022
In its inaugural iteration, Museums as Systems asks: How are museums systems of artistry, archives, education, labor, care, communication, and communities? By assembling curators, writers, educators, critics, creatives, and administrators in the arts, this convening seeks to spark connection, inspire collective action, and create an avenue for participants to engage with and be motivated by The Studio Museum in Harlem’s mission.
Museums as Systems aims to understand how to build toward a more collective, just, and care-centered museum landscape, and to begin a system of renewal and revitalization that bridges the departmental fragmentation that so often occurs in museum spaces.
Panel discussions will explore the theory and practices of curatorial, education, public programs, archiving, media, and communications within museums. By understanding the nuances of each department’s contributions, processes, ways of thinking and doing the work, Museums as Systems expands the possibilities of what it means to be a professional arts worker within the contemporary cultural institution.
The convening centers the work and interests of emerging Black arts workers and cultural producers, specifically current students, recent graduates, and early-career arts workers committed to the study of artists of African descent and Black cultural production.
The framework considers how museums are functioning now, reflects upon what never was that could potentially be realized, and imagines what comes next. The panel discussions that comprise the convening will provide systematic ways of thinking around these guideposts.
The sessions place established arts and cultural workers in dialogue with the next generation of thinkers and workers—though, everyone arrives with expertise regardless of years in the field. For this reason, the program offers a multivocal, multigenerational space of circular learning. To do this, Museums as Systems proposes an alternative mode of study and work that encourages interdisciplinarity, centers imagination and curiosity, and destabilizes dominant hierarchies.
Museums as Systems is presented by the Studio Museum Institute.
Live CART captioning provided by Stenocaptions and ASL interpretation provided by Pro Bono ASL.
I. Safeguarding Our History, 5 – 6:15 PM EST
What is our responsibility to the archive, or by extension, our responsibility to history? This session will look at the importance of safeguarding histories and the archive as a potential tool for envisioning the future. This session will examine curatorial and archival work, shedding light on specific examples where artists and communities have created art that rejects traditional standard-bearers—institutional legitimacy, figuration, and the singular artist’s voice in favor of artist-run alternative spaces.
Panelists: Eric Booker, Steven D. Booth, Jenee-Daria Strand
II. How Museums Speak to People, 6:30 – 7:45 PM EST
How do museums communicate with people? Design, media, and communication systems act as translators of institutional values, visions, and missions, as well as mechanisms for problem solving, accessibility, and world building. From traditional print marketing to online exhibition resources, institutional communication and design have never been more multifaceted, expansive, and ripe for innovation in 2022. In an ever-expanding digital landscape, how can and do we meaningfully engage audiences interested in art and culture?
Panelists: Elizabeth Karp-Evans, Yume Murphy, Sebastien Pierre, Kandis Williams
Eric Booker is a curator and writer. His work makes space for artists and narratives that challenge dominant histories. Booker is currently Assistant Curator and Exhibition Coordinator at The Studio
Eric Booker is a curator and writer. His work makes space for artists and narratives that challenge dominant histories. Booker is currently Assistant Curator and Exhibition Coordinator at The Studio Museum in Harlem, where he works on a range of exhibitions, performances, public art, and site-specific installations. His curatorial projects include Method Order Metric (2016) at The National Academy Museum; Jamel Shabazz: Crossing 125th (2017), Smokehouse 1968–1970 (2017), and Regarding the Figure (2017) at The Studio Museum in Harlem; Inside, Out Here at La MaMa Galleria (2018); and Autumn Knight: WALL at The Studio Museum in Harlem and Danspace Project (2019). Booker is currently at work on his first book about the Smokehouse Associates artist collective, for which he is the recipient of a 2019 Graham Foundation Grant.
Steven De'Juan Booth is an archivist, independent researcher, and member of The Blackivists, a collective of trained Black memory workers who provide expertise on archiving and preservation practices
Steven De'Juan Booth is an archivist, independent researcher, and member of The Blackivists, a collective of trained Black memory workers who provide expertise on archiving and preservation practices to communities in the Chicagoland area. He is currently the archivist/project manager of the Johnson Publishing Company Archive for the Getty Research Institute and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Jenee-Daria Strand is a Guyanese-American curator and writer from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Since 2019, she has served as the Curatorial Assistant for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the
Jenee-Daria Strand is a Guyanese-American curator and writer from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Since 2019, she has served as the Curatorial Assistant for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum where she has supported numerous exhibitions including “Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And.” Jenée is presently co-curating surveys on Nellie Mae Rowe and Maria Magdalena Campos Pons. Prior to her position at the Brooklyn Museum, Jenée served as the Company Manager to Meredith Monk and Administrative Assistant to Alice Sheppard. Jenée holds an MA in Museum Studies from NYU and a BFA in Dance from Florida State University.
Elizabeth Karp-Evans is Director of Media, Communications & Content at The Studio Museum in Harlem.
Elizabeth Karp-Evans is Director of Media, Communications & Content at The Studio Museum in Harlem.
Yume Murphy is a New York-based writer and digital storyteller working at the intersection of art, identity, and culture. Currently, they work as the Digital Media & Communications Associate at
Yume Murphy is a New York-based writer and digital storyteller working at the intersection of art, identity, and culture. Currently, they work as the Digital Media & Communications Associate at The Studio Museum in Harlem where they create content for and guide strategy and marketing initiatives on the institution's digital platforms. Prior to joining the institution, Yume was a Studio Museum intern in the Spring 2021 cohort. Additionally, they are a freelance writer—you can find their written work in Studio, i-D, Hyperallergic, and Art in America, among other publications. They received their B.A. in Media Studies from Vassar College, concentrating on visual cultures, media theory, and post-colonial studies.
Sebastien Pierre is a collage artist and graphic designer born in Yonkers, New York, and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his BA in Graphic Design from The Pratt Institute. Having worked with
Sebastien Pierre is a collage artist and graphic designer born in Yonkers, New York, and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his BA in Graphic Design from The Pratt Institute. Having worked with museums like The New Museum and artist-run organizations like Cassandra Press, Sebastien is experienced in designing for artists and arts organizations. As an artist he has exhibited work at galleries like Minor League Gallery in Atlanta and online in virtual art spaces like Straightlick.com, a digital group exhibition presented by Black Art Sessions. His work creates personal and often socially critical narratives by deconstructing, rearranging, and recontextualizing popular American print media. In 2020 he was nominated as one of the Studio Museum’s Museum Professionals cohorts, where he has published writing for the museum’s quarterly publication. Pierre is currently the Graphic Designer at The Studio Museum in Harlem where he has worked for one year.
Kandis Williams is a visual artist whose practice spans collage, sculpture, film, performance, writing, publishing, and curating. She explores and deconstructs critical theory around race, nationalism
Kandis Williams is a visual artist whose practice spans collage, sculpture, film, performance, writing, publishing, and curating. She explores and deconstructs critical theory around race, nationalism, authority, and eroticism. Her work examines the body as a site of experience while drawing upon her background in dramaturgy to envision spaces that accommodate the varied biopolitical economies, which inform how form and movement might be read. Williams establishes indices that network parts of the anatomy, regions of Black diaspora, as well as communication and obfuscation, relaying how popular culture and myth are interconnected. The artist is also the founder and editor-at-large of Cassandra Press, an artist-run publishing and educational platform producing lo-fi printed matter, classrooms, projects, artist books, and exhibitions. The platform’s intention is to disseminate ideas, distribute new language, propagate dialogue centering ethics, aesthetics, femme driven activism, and black scholarship.
Museum as Systems is generously funded by a grant from the Llewellyn Family Foundation. The Studio Museum in Harlem’s education programs are supported by the Thompson Foundation Education Fund; William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust; Gray Foundation; Con Edison; May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation; and Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts. Digital programming is made possible thanks to funding from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation’s Frankenthaler Digital Initiative. Additional support is generously provided by The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the New York State Legislature and the New York City Council.