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Footsteps -- African American Heritage

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Over 380 FOOTSTEPS articles and over 8,100 articles from seven other Cobblestone Publishing magazines are available in our subscription-based online searchable archives.  Parents and teachers, try the FREE index.

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Tell Me a Story: Folktales Then and Now
Tell Me a Story: Folktales Then and Now

The Studio Museum in Harlem

by Shanta Scott

The Studio Museum in Harlem (SMH) is located in the heart of Harlem, a section of New York City known for its rich, artistic, and cultural black history. Throughout the Harlem Renaissance -- a literary and artistic movement during the 1920s and 1930s -- the area witnessed the careers of such renowned legends as writer Langston Hughes, photographer James VanDerZee, and entertainer Josephine Baker.

Founded in 1968, SMH is dedicated to advancing the work of African American artists and artists of African descent. Through its Artists-in-Residence program, exhibitions, and public programs, the museum presents work from around the globe that has been inspired by African cultures.

Kehinde Wiley works in his studio on his painting Easter Realness
Kehinde Wiley works in his studio on his painting Easter Realness.
For more information about The Studio Museum in Harlem, visit

SMH encourages visitors to personalize their museum experience by providing many different ways to understand current and historical issues presented by African American visual, literary, and performing artists. The museum also serves as a unique resource for all visitors through its permanent collection, archive and research facilities, and museum store.

The museum got its name from its Artists-in-Residence program. For this 12-month residency, the museum provides three emerging artists with art materials, a stipend (allowance), and space to create their work. The artists work with a variety of media to create their artwork, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, digital art, photography, sound, and video. The artists exhibit their work in the museum's galleries at the end of the program.

SMH also presents educational and public programs for families, adults, and youth. In one of the most popular programs for high school students, "Words in Motion," students learn how to express themselves using the visual arts, poetry, spoken word, and DJ-ing by working closely with mentors. The range of activities and programs at SMH creates opportunities for visitors to experience the artwork, explore their own creativity, learn about black artists of today and yesterday, and have fun.

Shanta Scott is a museum educator at The Studio Museum in Harlem and offers guided tours of exhibitions. Scott graduated in May 2002 from the University of Hartford with a degree in art history.