visit the black cowboy exhibit at harlem’s studio museum

January 27, 2017
74 Picks

When you hear the word “cowboy,” it’s likely that your mind goes to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or perhaps another Black and white film whose presence would be fit for AMC. But the “Black Cowboy” exhibition at Harlem’s Studio Museum is flipping that notion on its head. The historical omission of African American communities from our relationship to keeping, training, and tending horses is a travesty, and those traditions are being kept in modern times. While it might be unexpected to see a cowboy in your daily life, in Philly, for example, concrete cowboys roam busy avenues and keep horses just as you’d expect from a Texas ranger. Their website expresses that their intention is to “[expand] our idea of what constitutes an American icon and legacy, and complicates a narrative that has been tightly woven into our culture.” With photography, artists like Brad Trent, Deanna Lawson and Ron Tarver work to refute the idea that cowboys are synonymous with whiteness. This is yet another example of Black folks reclaiming our history and making these stories known. The exhibit is allowing visitors until March 5, so make sure if you can go, that you find your way to Studio Museum in Harlem.

By T. McLendon, AFROPUNK Contributor

Ron Tarver “Legends”

Deana Lawson, “Cowboys”

Brad Trent,  “Ellis ‘Mountain Man’ Harris

from ‘The Federation of Black Cowboys’” series for The Village Voice

Ron Tarver

Brad Trent