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May 28, 2019

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

In tandem with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, The Brooklyn Museum presents Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall. This exhibition will be on view beginning May 3 and throughout the global celebration WorldPride in New York City, which lasts the month of June.

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

Nobody Promised You Tomorrow will feature the work of 22 contemporary LGBT+ artists working in New York. Their paintings, drawings, sculpture, film, and installation will comment upon the LGBT+ rights movement, its early participants, its progress, and the human lives the movement represents.

The Stonewall Inn was the site of violent conflict in June 1969 between police and the queer patrons who frequented this West Village bar. At the time, actions like dancing with members of your own gender and cross-dressing were illegal, and queer people lived in fear of violence and endured widespread discrimination. The resistance against police was a tipping point for LGBT+ people everywhere. The Stonewall riots incited thousands upon thousands of people to rise up and continue the fight for equality over the following five decades.

The exhibition title comes from a quote attributed to Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender woman who was said to be present the night of the Stonewall riots. An activist and drag performer, Johnson weathered a life of intermittent homelessness, mental illness, and discrimination against her race as well as her queer identity. Johnson is one of the many figures often forgotten in conventional narratives about life surrounding Stonewall, and this exhibition seeks to expand the conversation around the early fight for LGBT+ rights, as well as respond to our current political moment.

Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski (French, born 1985). Instructions for a Freedom, 2015. Gouache, watercolor, tea, and marker on paper, 41½ × 96 in. (105.4 × 243.8 cm). Private collection. © Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski

The contemporary artists of Nobody Promised You Tomorrow will include 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.

The Brooklyn Museum has commissioned new pieces to include in the exhibition, which will be on view for the first time on May 3. Tourmaline will debut Salacia, a film about a black transgender woman named Mary Jones who lived in 19th-century New York City. LJ Roberts’ large sculpture Storme at Stonewall will honor the oft-forgotten figures of the uprising. An interactive installation by Morgan Bassichis will riff on Lavender Hill, a commune that operated in upstate New York in the 1960s.

The exhibition’s four sections will be Revolt, Heritage, Desire, and Care Networks. Revolt will explore queer activism before and after Stonewall, including actual protest signs from recent history. Heritage will feature important activists such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Storme DeLarverie, and Marlon Riggs. This section also comments on how gentrification and oppression continually affect the LGBT+ community. Desire will show artistic expressions of love and attraction, and Care Networks will visualize the word community and the vital relationships that bring safety, joy, and unity among LGBT+ people.

During the exhibition’s seven-month run, community programming, commissioned performances, and a Resource Room at the museum will invite visitors to a deeper experience of this exhibition and its wide-reaching themes.

Curators of Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall include Margo Cohen Ristorucci, Lindsay C. Harris, Carmen Hermo, Allie Rickard, and Lauren Argentina Zelaya.

This exhibition will be on view May 3 through December 8, 2019.

Brooklyn Museum Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall
Image-Set Caption List These images are for press and educational use only in relation to the exhibition above; they must be identified and accompanied by the appropriate caption as included below. If you have any questions please contact press@brooklynmuseum.orgTuesday 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 SIGNATURE IMAGE
Felipe Baeza (Mexican, born 1987). my vision is small fixed to what can be heard between the ears the spot between the eyes a well-spring opening to el mundo grande, 2018. Ink, graphite, twine, cut paper, glitter, and egg tempera on paper, 87½ × 90 in. (222.3 × 228.6 cm). © Felipe Baeza, courtesy Maureen Paley, London


The Brooklyn Museum is located at 200 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Call 718-501-6354 or visit brooklynmuseum.org for more information.

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