Now Thelma Golden is becoming part of an art exhibition by sitting down with artists who live or work in Harlem to provide one-on-one critiques of their work next month as part of a museum exhibit by Theaster Gates titled "See, Sit, Sup, Sip, Sing: Holding Court."
The exhibition consists of tables, chairs and desks salvaged from a now shuttered school on the South Side of Chicago. The exhibition, part of a larger installation called "Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art," has been relocated to the museum's atrium where Golden will consult with local artists.
Gates, who holds a degree in urban planning, is interested in institutional transparency and how sculpture and performance can stoke grassroots engagement. The exhibit is intended to become a classroom of sorts where what's shared, discussed or learned is created by the people utilizing the table and chairs.
"It's not your typical museum experience. It's not just an area with art. It's a place where people meet and the engagement is the art," said Edwin Ramoran, manager of public programs and community engagement for the Studio Museum.
Located in the atrium, the exhibit is also visible from 125th Street which further cements the idea of transparency and community connection.
Given the Studio Museum's reputation for nurturing emerging artists, it makes sense that Golden would hold court at the space. Every year since 1968, the museum has offered almost year-long residencies for black and Latino artists.
The museum also has a variety of community engagement efforts aimed at young people.
"It's a rare opportunity for artists that the installation is enabling and a reinforcement of the openness of this institution," said Ramoran.
As Harlem has revitalized, the artist community has also grown. Ramoran said the goal of the museum is to maintain its world-class collection while also continuing to keep up with the pulse of the neighborhood.
"The exhibit consists of tables and chairs from a school that no longer exists, but they still have life because of an artist who thought about their significance," said Ramoran. "The museum explores the relationship between artist, institution and community. With Thelma holding court we are inviting people in."
Golden will "hold court" from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9, spending 15 minutes with each artist. Participants will be picked by a screened lottery process after submitting an artist's statement, 10 images of their work and a resume.
"Be prepared to speak about your work and to be as genuine as you can," Ramoran advised would-be participants. "Always be prepared."
Artists interesting in meeting with Thelma Golden should submit their name, home or studio address in Harlem and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org by 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. Individuals selected through the lottery will be informed via email and given further instructions on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. Participants will be asked to prepare a current resume or CV, a maximum of 10 images (no original artwork) and an artist statement of 500 words or less.