Poem by AliThe past month has left us with some of the most turbulent moments of 2016. It seems we can’t turn on our TVs, radios, computers or smartphones without being met with another harrowing or frightening tale of our world shifting violently in one way or another. In some places, it’s just like any other month. In others, less so.

But before we lose all hope, it’s important to take a beat to remember that we’ve been here before. I know that sounds impossible, but it’s true. Generations that have come before us remember all too well when the world looked bleak and every day felt like a numbing deluge of bad news. And how do we know these stories? Because those who lived through them see fit to share those accounts with us today. And in the future, we’ll have a chance to do the same for the generations that follow.

On June 26th, I ventured up to the Studio Museum in Harlem to catch four exhibits before they closed that day. (Talk about cutting it close!) In each of the showcases — one by Ebony G. Patterson, Rodney McMillian, Rashaad Newsome and the Surface Area permanent collection ensemble, respectively — we saw the current events of the world looking back at us, leaving their mark on our memories and our hearts. It wasn’t simply commentary on the present state of art, society or even the African Diaspora. It was a reflection of our strength to carry on even when all seems lost.

Just like the ever-present poem by Muhammad Ali (seen above) that decorates the lobby of the Studio Museum, as long as we remember why it’s important to carry on, there is no need to despair.

Please feel free to click on any image in the gallery below for a closer look. The details resonate more than you think.

  • Ebony Patterson exhibit statement
  • Patterson exhibit notation
  • Ebony Patterson exhibit - P1
  • Ebony Patterson exhibit - P2
  • they were just hanging out - Patterson 2016
  • they were just boys - Patterson 2016
  • when they grow up - Patterson 2016
  • Tent of mourning - Patterson 2016
  • Rodney McMillian exhibit statement
  • Chairs and books by Rodney McMillian - 2004
  • Untitled - Refrigerator by McMillian - 2009
  • Couch by Rodney McMillian
  • In progress by Rodney McMillian - 2003
  • Chair by Rodney McMillian - 2003
  • Rashaad Newsome exhibit statement
  • LSS Kevin JZ Prodigy by Rashaad Newsome - 2014
  • LSS - Alex Mugler by Rashaad Newsome
  • Statement - Surface Area
  • Strangest Fruit by Radcliff Bailey - 1997
  • Someone Like You But Better by Paula Wilson - 2007
  • Scene by Brenna Youngblood - 2006
  • Studio Museum entrance