Thomas J. Price ‘The Distance Within’ sculpture in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park

The Studio Museum in Harlem will exhibit the first solo U.S. museum presentation of the work of Thomas J. Price beginning October 2 as an outdoor installation in Harlem’s historic Marcus Garvey Park. Titled Thomas J. Price: Witness, and shown as part of the Studio Museum’s ongoing series of inHarlem initiatives, the commission will comprise a single monumental work: The Distance Within (2021), Price’s nine-foot-tall bronze sculpture depicting a young Black man looking down at his cell phone.

The installation, which will remain in place for an entire year, is the first project to be announced in the Studio Museum’s slate of exhibitions and programs for fall 2021. As the Studio Museum moves forward with the construction of its new home on West 125th Street, designed by Adjaye Associates with Cooper Robertson, offsite exhibitions and installations allow the Museum to amplify its mission throughout Harlem and the city.

“In The Distance Within, (Thomas J. Price) celebrates ordinary blackness, rendering it extraordinary, and asks us to deeply consider the very function of monuments as defining the familiar,” Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, said. “We feel certain that our public in Harlem, and throughout the city and the world, will find this installation thought-provoking, moving, and extremely powerful.”

The form of The Distance Within pays homage to an earlier Price work, Network, that was presented in the UK in 2013. Price’s large-scale figural sculptures are inspired by real people, often those who live and work in South London, where the artist was born and raised and currently resides. 

“I want to interrogate [notions of] presence, movement, and freedom,” Price has said. “Whom do these spaces belong to? And what bodies are provided more or less autonomy to move with liberty through public [space]?” 

Price’s relationship to Harlem comes via his lived experience as a Black man looking “across the pond” from his home in Brixton to what he describes as that neighborhood’s “counterpoint.” Both are historically Black neighborhoods with rich social and cultural legacies, which stand in dialogue with one another. 

About the Artist

Thomas J. Price’s multidisciplinary practice confronts preconceived attitudes toward representation, perception, and identity. Price’s large-scale sculptures depict imagined subjects whose features are an amalgamation of sources. Observed individuals and stereotypes represented in the media are mixed with references to ancient, classical, and neoclassical sculptures. These works serve as psychological portraits of the viewer by revealing socially learned attitudes and understandings as they project identities onto the depicted characters. Using methods of presentation, material, scale, and detail Price aims to challenge viewers’ expectations and assumptions.

Born in London in 1981, Price studied at Chelsea College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. Price has held solo exhibitions at institutions including The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada; The National Portrait Gallery, London, UK; Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK; MAC, Birmingham, UK; Royal College of Art, London, UK; Harewood House, Leeds, UK; and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, UK. 

About The Studio Museum in Harlem

Founded in 1968 by a diverse group of artists, community activists, and philanthropists, The Studio Museum in Harlem is internationally known for its catalytic role in promoting the work of artists of African descent.

As it celebrates its 50th anniversary, the Studio Museum is preparing to construct a new home at its longtime location on Manhattan’s West 125th Street, designed by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with Cooper Robertson. The first building created expressly for the institution’s program, it will enable the Studio Museum to better serve a growing and diverse audience, provide additional educational opportunities for people of all ages, expand its program of world-renowned exhibitions, effectively display its singular collection, and strengthen its trailblazing Artist-in-Residence program.

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