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  • Writer's pictureArtists in Rise


Updated: Nov 16, 2023


1968 was a year of global turmoil and distress and often referred to as "the year that set the world on fire" and "the year that shaped a generation." In America, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated while civil rights and anti-war demonstrations frequently resulted in violence. It was in this climate, and likely because of this climate, that The Studio Museum in Harlem was born. The inaugural director, Charles Inniss, was a successful business man and former member of the Army National Guard famously known as the Harlem Hellfighters. Inniss was guided by the original founders; a diverse group of philanthropists, activists, artists, and residents of Harlem who believed that the African-American community should have everyday access to a museum experience that reflected their lives, cultures, and interests.

Museum founders Eleanor Holmes Norton, Carter Burden, Charles E. Inniss, Campbell Wylly, Betty Blayton-Taylor, and Frank Donnelly at the Studio Museum on opening night. Image Courtesy of The Studio Museum in Harlem

Since its conception, the museum focused on workshops and exhibition programs designed to give artists time and space to explore their practice, expand their skills, and exhibit their work. This idea led to the start of an Artist-in-Residence program spearheaded by painter William T. Williams who believed in the importance of having black artists making and exhibiting their

work in the Harlem community. Williams and sculptor Mel Edwards worked tirelessly to renovate an industrial loft space at the Museum's first home at 2033 Fifth Avenue into artists studios.

The original home of the Studio Museum in Harlem at 2033 Fifth Avenue, just north of 125th Street. Image courtesy of The Studio Museum in Harlem.

The Studio Museum’s inaugural exhibition featured the work of artist-in-residence Tom Lloyd in an exhibition entitled Electronic Refractions II. Lloyd, along with Director Inniss and Board Member Betty Blayton, talk about the Studio Museum's beginnings, visions, and the exhibition on an episode of The Black Industrial Revolution from December 1968.

Tom Lloyd working with his apprentice on a piece for "Electronic Refractions II." Image courtesy of The Studio Museum

In the interview, Blayton states that they see the museum being so fantastic that, not only would the people of Harlem finally have their own museum to visit, but so will the rest of Manhattan and the world. The Studio Museum in Harlem has absolutely gained international recognition for its catalytic role in advancing the work of visual artists of African and Afro-Latinx descent through its  Artist-in-Residence program. The program has supported nearly 150 artists who have gone on to have highly regarded careers and has also fostered the careers of numerous museum professionals as well.


Every year, the Studio Museum offers an eleven-month residency for three local, national, or international artists working in any media. Individuals selected for the residency receive institutional guidance and professional development, research support, studio space, and a stipend paid out over the course of the residency. In addition to their time in the studio, artists participate in the Museum's public programs and educational studio visits with community partners. A culminating exhibition features the work of the artists in residence.

Applicants are required to submit a resume or CV, up to ten but no less than five images or videos of examples of artwork, and an artist statement. The resume and artist statement should be consolidated into a single PDF file and uploaded, or written directly into the application portal.

There is no education, medium, or proposal requirement. Applications are reviewed by Members of the Museum’s Curatorial Program and a selection of external jurors.


There is no fee to apply. Artists awarded residence receive a $25,000 stipend paid out regularly throughout the year.


For this and more information, visit The Studio Museum in Harlem.


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