• TILA Studios

DO YOUR RESEARCH: From Instagram to the Museum

Updated: Jan 16, 2019


The  world wide web gave me the opportunity to be a digital art student outside of my traditional art education. It became a treasure trove of information that I could save, collect and come back to when I needed to. Some of the research was done for inspiration like looking for Black Women Photographers including Carrie Mae Weems and LaToya Ruby Frazier. While others I came across by happenstance, spending way to many hours on tumblr  sifting through art blogs like Kimberly Drew’s Black Contemporary Art.


In fact it was tumblr where I first came across The Dandy Lion project. At the time I did not know it was curated by Shantrelle P. Lewis. She had been extensively researching and exhibiting this project since 2010. The photographs of the men in all of their regals from Brooklyn NY to Africa, smiling, not smiling with extravagant shades, with canes and umbrellas, immediately brought forth a moment of exposure. I felt seen.


It was like everything I was trying to articulate about the regalness, joy and pride for a Black Man to dress in this way, was right in front me.




The Dandy Lion project The first comprehensive exhibition of its kind, Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity provides an exploration of a popular conversation in nuanced contemporary sartorial expressions and the fluidity of cis-gender Black male masculinity. As a statement, it is not definitive. It is provocative and inquisitive – meant to provoke, indulge and glorify.




This year I want to BE with more art.

While I spent much time on internet researching artist and saving their work to a folder on my desktop, there was something missing. A connection with the work when seeing it in person, on the gallery or museum wall. There is so much more to engaging with the work of the artist than saving and liking their work on instagram. It is absolutely necessary as a patron of the arts to support the galleries, institutions and spaces that place the work of the artist on their walls.


And yes, it’s also great to be in the know through instagram by following curators and artists alike. You get to see pieces of their process and research through stories. It was even like seeing an old friend when Shantrelle posted that she  was in Atlanta for the installation of the exhibition . But it will be even better when I will get to go to Auburn Avenue Research Library to hear her and Dr. Fahamu Pecou be in conversation about the work and the importance of connecting this narrative across the Disapora.


So here’s how we are going to do it, We’re going to build a calendar. Yes WE. Because we’re in this art thing together.

Set a date and time to do research.

Every Sunday from 8pm to 9pm, I’ll be looking for everything between show openings to events around the show.Try to stick to the time you set so you can focus to gather all of the information.  I like to start on Instagram and saving flyers from the museum and gallery accounts to a saved collection. You can also use google, eventbrite and facebook.


What are you looking for?

There so many things that happen around art like show openings and closings, artists talks, curator talks, events, workshops and even jazz nights. Break up your research to looking for a specific thing so that it doesn’t become overwhelming and you start suffering from serious FOMO. I like to start by going to the institutions, museums or galleries calendar and make note of all of their upcoming exhibitions. Here are a few to get you started.


The Hammonds House Museum

The High Museum

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art

Zucot Gallery


Start a running list  

One you’re on the event or upcoming exhibition page, Get as much information from this page as possibly. You’re looking for your, Who, What, When and Where. Even where can you park because parking is important. You can dump all of this into a google doc or go old school with pen and paper. Whatever you use, its important that you place it here so when you start building your calendar you don’t have to start looking for everything again.


[ SHOW OPENING ] Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity

On View: January 18, 2019 - April 28, 2019

Opening Night Reception: January 18, 2019

Location: The High Museum

Cost: Free for members, $7

Parking: Limited Street Parking


[ SHOW CLOSING ] WITH DRAWN ARMS: GLENN KAINO & TOMMIE SMITH

On view: February 3, 2019

Location: The High Museum

Parking: Free Street Parking on Sunday

A half century before NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee, gold medal sprinter Tommie Smith raised a fist at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico to protest abuse of human rights around the world and in response to the struggle for civil rights in the United States. His historic gesture, and its reverberations over the past 50 years, will be explored in this important exhibition organized by the High Museum of Art.


[ EVENT ] CONVERSATIONS WITH CONTEMPORARY ARTIST: AMY SHERALD

Event on: February 6th, 7pm

Location: The High Museum

Cost: Free for members,

Parking: Free Street Parking on Sunday

Join us for a special evening with artist Amy Sherald and art historian Dr. Andrea Barnwell Brownlee.



Next, we will talk about your WHY and how to choose where you’re going based on your needs as an advocate and artist, rather than going just to be seen on the ‘gram.


Do Your Own Research is a blog series that will take you through the steps of researching art, engaging with art outside of the digital world and being smart about where you spend your time to become a better artist, arts advocate and patron of the arts. This series also comes with a companion calendar that includes reminders on when to RSVP, show openings and closings and more!

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