Current Exhibition

Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem (2019-2021)

Major Traveling Exhibition Brings Nearly a Century of Works by Artists of African Descent to Audiences Across the United States

The American Federation of Arts is pleased to announce a major traveling exhibition created in collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem: Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem. Comprised of over one hundred works by nearly eighty artists across all media dating from the 1920s to the present, Black Refractions surveys close to a century of creative achievements by artists of African descent and is the first traveling exhibition in twenty-five years to reveal the breadth and expansive growth of the Studio Museum’s permanent collection.

Beginning in 2019, the exhibition will be shown at six venues across the United States, with each unique presentation configured to reflect the concerns of the local institutions and audiences.

This landmark initiative explores the vital contributions of artists of African descent, proposing a plurality of narratives of black artistic production and multiple approaches to understanding these works. Such an ambitious, multifaceted project is uniquely possible through the use of the Studio Museum’s collection. Through its pioneering exhibitions, public programs, artist residencies, and bold acquisitions, The Studio Museum in Harlem has served as a nexus for artists of African descent locally, nationally, and internationally since its founding in 1968.

Artists in the exhibition include:
Derrick Adams, Terry Adkins, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Charles Alston, Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Dawoud Bey, McArthur Binion, Betty Blayton-Taylor, Chakaia Booker, Frank Bowling, Mark Bradford, Jordan Casteel, Elizabeth Catlett, LeRoy Clarke, Willie Cole, Eldzier Cortor, Noah Davis, Beauford Delaney, Thornton Dial, Leonardo Drew, Melvin Edwards, Meschac Gaba, Sam Gilliam, David Hammons, Lyle Ashton Harris, Maren Hassinger, Barkley L. Hendricks, Richard Hunt, Clementine Hunter, Juliana Huxtable, Steffani Jemison, Loïs Mailou Jones, Isaac Julien, Titus Kaphar, Seydou Keïta, Jacob Lawrence, Hughie Lee-Smith, Norman Lewis, Glenn Ligon, Kalup Linzy, Tom Lloyd, Whitfield Lovell, Alvin Loving, Kerry James Marshall, Julie Mehretu, Adia Millett, Wangechi Mutu, Kori Newkirk, Otobong Nkanga, Odili Donald Odita, Chris Ofili, Lorraine O’Grady, Jennifer Packer, Howardena Pindell, Robert Pruitt, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Jacolby Satterwhite, Malick Sidibé, Gary Simmons, Lorna Simpson, Shinique Smith, Henry Taylor, Alma Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Bob Thompson, Bill Traylor, James VanDerZee, Nari Ward, Carrie Mae Weems, Stanley Whitney, Jack Whitten, Kehinde Wiley, William T. Williams, Fred Wilson, Hale Woodruff, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.



Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA
January 16 – April 14, 2019
Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC
May 24 – August 18, 2019
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, MI
September 13 – December 8, 2019
Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA
January 17 – April 12, 2020
Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT
January 23 - April 11, 2021
Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA
May 22 - August 15, 2021


Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem (2019-2021)

Authors: Connie H. Choi, Thelma Golden, and Kellie Jones Publishers: American Federation of Arts & Rizzoli Electa Dimensions: 9 x 11 1/4 in. Format: 232 Pages HC: 978-0-8478-6638-0

More Info


Black Refractions is accompanied by a new publication of the same title co-published by the American Federation of Arts and Rizzoli Electa. The richly illustrated volume includes essays by Connie H. Choi and Kellie Jones; entries by a range of writers, curators and scholars (among them Lauren Haynes, Ashley James, Oluremi C. Onabanjo, Larry Ossei-Mensah and Hallie Ringle) who contextualize the works and provide detailed commentary; and a conversation among Choi, Thelma Golden, and Jones that draws out themes and challenges in collecting and exhibiting modern and contemporary art by artists of African descent.

Publication available for purchase here.


Connie H. Choi is the Associate Curator of the Permanent Collection at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Previously, she was Assistant Curator of American Art at the Brooklyn Museum. She completed her Ph.D. in Art History at Columbia University in 2019, and holds an Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University.


This exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts and The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Major support for Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem provided by Art Bridges.

Sponsorship for the national tour provided in part by PURE.





Support for the accompanying publication provided by Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.