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Michael Richards & the Whitney Independent Study Program at "Conversations at MOCA"

In conjunction with the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami's (MOCA) current exhibition “Michael Richards: Are You Down?,” the museum will host “Conversations at MOCA: Michael Richards & the Whitney Independent Study Program with Renee Cox, Lyle Ashton Harris, and Dread Scott” on Wednesday, June 16 at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

This dynamic conversation will expand on a formative moment in Richards' artistic practice and his integral involvement with a group of Black artists emerging in the 1990s. In 1992–1993, Richards participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program—a year-long program for artists and curators that encourages critical study and theoretical inquiry—in New York City, along with artists Renee Cox, Lyle Ashton Harris, and Dread Scott. Moderated by Whitney Museum curator Rujeko Hockley, this conversation will reunite Cox, Harris, and Scott, each of whom, in addition to being friends with Richards, engaged him in their own art-making.

About the panel

Moderated by Rujeko Hockley, Hockley is an assistant curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is the curator of the mid-career survey Julie Mehretu, which opened in March 2021, and co-curated the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Additional projects at the Whitney include Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined (2017) and An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940-2017 (2017). Previously, she was Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum, where she co-curated Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond (2014) and was involved in exhibitions highlighting the permanent collection as well as artists LaToya Ruby Frazier, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, Kehinde Wiley, Tom Sachs, and others. She is the co-curator of We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85 (2017), which originated at the Brooklyn Museum and travelled to three U.S. venues in 2017-18. She serves on the Board of Art Matters, as well as the Advisory Board of Recess.

Renee Cox makes photographs, collages, and installations that draw on art history, fashion photography and popular culture. Her work invokes a critical vision of female sexuality, beauty, power and heroism through nudity, religious imagery and symbolism that inform her interdisciplinary process. She is most noted for her larger-than-life photographs of female bodies. She reexaminations the black female figure in the context of structures of power. Cox received her BA from Syracuse University, (Syracuse, NY) and MFA from the School of Visual Arts, (New York, NY). She was a participant in the Whitney Museum of American Art, Independent Study Program, (New York, NY). Her work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at prominent institutions to include Tate Liverpool (Liverpool, UK), The New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York, NY), Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY), and Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY) to name a few.

Lyle Ashton Harris has cultivated a diverse artistic practice ranging from photography and collage to installation and performance art. His work explores intersections between the personal and the political, examining the impact of ethnicity, gender, and desire on the contemporary social and cultural dynamic. Harris is represented in the permanent collections of renowned institutions and has been widely exhibited internationally, including most recently in “Photography’s Last Century” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; in “Basquiat’s ‘Defacement’: The Untold Story’’ and “Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, among many others. Harris lives and works in New York, serving as a Professor of Art at New York University.

Dread Scott is an interdisciplinary artist who for three decades has made work that encourages viewers to re-examine cohering ideals of American society. In 1989, the US Senate outlawed his artwork and President Bush declared it “disgraceful” because of its transgressive use of the American flag. Dread became part of a landmark Supreme Court case when he and others burned flags on the steps of the Capitol. He has presented a TED talk on this. His art has been exhibited at MoMA/PS1, The Walker Art Center, Jack Shainman Gallery and street corners across the country. He is a 2019 Open Society Foundations Soros Equality Fellow and has received fellowships from United States Artists and Creative Capital Foundation. In 2019, he presented Slave Rebellion Reenactment, a public performance, which was featured in Vanity Fair, The New York Times and on Christiane Amanpour on CNN. His art is included in the collection of the Whitney Museum.

Michael Richards: Are You Down? is possible with lead support from Oolite Arts and major support from the Wege Foundation. MOCA is grateful to the Green Family Foundation and Funding Arts Network. Thanks to Brooke Davis Anderson, Roberta Denning, V. Joy Simmons, M.D., Miami MOCAAD and John Shubin for their generosity. The accompanying monograph is co-published with New York Consolidated and made possible with support from the Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

MOCA North Miami exhibitions and programs are made possible with the continued support of the North Miami Mayor and Council and the City of North Miami, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, and the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.

For more information, visit

By ML Staff. Images courtesy of MOCA


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