Studying Studio - A Lesson from Harlem

I recently had the good fortune to be handed an issue of Studio magazine, published by the Studio Museum in Harlem, and I am a little in love. The size is just right. The paper feels good. The design is pitch perfect. But it is the content that  truly makes me smile, swoon and know that good things still exist.


[image found online]
There are a few choice sections that have led me to this state of mind. In fact, I have not even made it all the way through the entire publication, but I do not want to wait to share. First, the fact that Director Thelma Golden shares exciting shows to see throughout the nation, if not world, in her Elsewhere column. She expertly selects and highlights what is exciting and worthwhile to see and provides accessible and interesting reasons why. Then there is the section where readers find out that if they like a particular artist, they may also like so-and-so artist that they have not heard of. Both of these sections show an ability for outward thinking that is remiss in too many institutions. As a museum fan, I grow tired of newsletters and small museum publications simply being press pieces for upcoming exhibits, programs and events. The converse, is a tome of scholarly research at a depth beyond the mainstream reader or member. The thought of sharing knowledge, and further, sharing knowledge beyond one institution's own activities is refreshing and integral. The publication is alive and is part of the world, not inserting itself into it. 

I was further delighted by the art activity included in the magazine. It is accessible to all readers and not dependent upon the museum visit. It seems more worthy and creative than the proliferate adult coloring books seemingly consumable everywhere from the boutique bookstore to the quaint five and dime or even bog box store. While the concept may not be entirely new, I do not see it often enough, nor done so well.

A final note on the graphic quality of the publication: it was a surprise to me early on in my career to learn the disdain of some artists of having their work shown in detail to graphic effect. I understand the resistance, and yet, Studio uses the close-ups, the fragmented and expanded views of minute details of an artworks surface, to wonderful visual effect. The artworks take on a textile-like quality as they fill full pages and entice the reader to learn more and see more and, although knowingly unachievable, touch more. It is sensual, yet stylish and respectful.

As the museum expands into its community with a focus beyond the institution's walls, I commend them for printing a magazine that seamlessly reflects this desire and activity. It is a beautiful publication and was a welcome read to this museum professional in Southwest Michigan. Currently, the magazine is sifting through the eyes and hands of other colleagues so they too may experience and enjoy. I look forward to its return, when it becomes part of an ongoing collection of catalogs, magazines and essays that are reserved for reference and modeling in future projects.



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