April 26, 2019

Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall @ Brooklyn Museum

Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall
Brooklyn Museum
May 3 – December 8, 2019

Tuesday Smillie
TUESDAY SMILLIE (American, born 1981) 
S.T.A.R., 2012 
Watercolor, collage on board, 9½ x 11 in. (24.1 x 27.9 cm). 
Courtesy of the artist. © Tuesday Smillie

The Brooklyn Museum presents the exhibition Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall, which commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City by exploring the rebellion’s profound legacy and lasting impact on the queer artistic community of today. The exhibition features twenty-two LGBTQ+ artists currently or recently active in New York, whose work spans painting, sculpture, film, photography, and performance. It takes its title from the rallying words of transgender artist and activist Marsha P. Johnson, aiming to expand the collective understanding of the Stonewall Uprising’s legacy for today’s LGBTQ+ communities. The summer 1969 revolt at The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s West Village, was a landmark moment in the queer liberation and gay rights movement in the United States. However, in the ensuing decades the crucial role of transgender women of color and homeless LGBTQ+ youth in the Uprising, as well as the radical politics the rebellion embodied, have been largely marginalized by the mainstream gay rights movement. The exhibition sheds light on alternative narratives, including those of individual participants, while also exploring the realities of our current political moment through the work of artists from the vanguard of contemporary art.

Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall is organized by an interdepartmental group of five curators, each of whom brings a unique perspective to the curatorial process. The exhibition will touch all corners of the Brooklyn Museum, with work on view in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, a related Resource Room for further learning, expanded public and educational programming, and new institutional initiatives. This multidimensional approach to curation emphasizes the Brooklyn Museum’s dedication to inspiring conversations through art and providing community members with a place to have those conversations.

“The Brooklyn Museum has long been committed to providing a platform for those courageous enough to confront and question history,” says Anne Pasternak, Shelby White and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum. “With Nobody Promised You Tomorrow, we’re telling a more inclusive story of the Stonewall Uprising that connects it directly to the remarkably diverse community of LGBTQ+ artists carrying on the legacy of Stonewall now and into the future.”

The exhibition features artists Mark Aguhar, Felipe Baeza, Morgan Bassichis, David Antonio Cruz, Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski, John Edmonds, Mohammed Fayaz, Camilo Godoy, Jeffrey Gibson, Hugo Gyrl, Juliana Huxtable, Rindon Johnson, Elektra KB, Linda LaBeija, Park McArthur, Elle Pérez, LJ Roberts, Tuesday Smillie, Tourmaline, Kiyan Williams, Sasha Wortzel, and Constantina Zavitsanos. Their work are displayed across four sections that explore themes of Revolt, Heritage, Desire, and Care Networks. These themes expand upon the prevailing understanding of the Stonewall Uprising and its legacy.

“In the Revolt section, drawings and films trace the lives and honor the actions of those who organized for change before and after Stonewall, while contemporary protest signs transform into artworks that uplift and riff on activist legacies. Figures like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie, and Marlon Riggs are commemorated in the Heritage section, which also focuses on how gentrification and violence continue to affect queer communities today,” the group of five exhibition curators explains. “The artworks in Desire explore attraction and intimacy, while moving into a space of imagining and organizing toward more equitable futures and new ways of living. In Care Networks, artists visualize their networks of affinity, support, friendship, and nightlife that provide emotional sustenance as well as spaces for experimentation and liberation.”

Artists included in the exhibition have worked individually and in collaboration to grapple with the unique conditions and questions of the current political moment. The Brooklyn Museum has commissioned new works specifically for the exhibition. They include Tourmaline’s new film Salacia, which depicts Mary Jones, a Black transgender woman who lived in New York City during the early nineteenth century, as she carves out a life for herself—and a legacy for generations ther after—in the face of systemic racism and transphobia. LJ Roberts’s Stormé at Stonewall is a large-scale sculpture that pays tribute to the diverse participants in the Stonewall Uprising—particularly lesbian activist Stormé DeLarverie—whose stories are often erased by popular media. Morgan Bassichis has created an interactive installation inspired by the radical communal living practices of Lavender Hill, a commune founded outside of Ithaca, New York, in the late 1960s. Numerous performances have also been commissioned as part of the robust schedule of public programs in conjunction with the exhibition.

Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall is curated by Margo Cohen Ristorucci, Public Programs Coordinator; Lindsay C. Harris, Teen Programs Manager; Carmen Hermo, Associate Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art; Allie Rickard, Curatorial Assistant, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art; and Lauren Argentina Zelaya, Acting Director, Public Programs, Brooklyn Museum. Its Resource Room is organized by Levi Narine, Teen Programs Assistant, InterseXtions and Special Projects, in collaboration with the curators.

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by The Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation. Additional support is provided by Paul R. Beirne, the Helene Zucker Seeman Memorial Exhibition Fund, and MaryRoss Taylor.

200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238-6052