Brooklyn Museum Exhibit Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Stonewall Riots


PROSPECT HEIGHTS – This spring the Brooklyn Museum will debut a group exhibition featuring work by contemporary LGBTQ+ artists that “honors the fight for queer liberation in the years since the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.”

S.T.A.R., 2012, by Tuesday Smillie. Courtesy of the artist and the Brooklyn Museum. © Tuesday Smillie

Opening May 3rd, Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall commemorates the Stonewall riots by examining the legacy and impact the revolt has on today’s queer creative community. The exhibit’s title comes from the “rallying words” of transgender artist and activist Marsha P. Johnson, “underscoring both the precariousness and the vitality of LGBTQ+ communities,” according to the Brooklyn Museum website.

On June 28, 1969, a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the West Village, sparked a violent six-day protest between the NYPD and patrons and neighbors of the bar. The historic uprising served as the impetus for the gay rights movement across the world.

Over the years, the role of transgender women of color and homeless LGBTQ+ youth have been marginalized by the mainstream gay rights movement, according to the release announcing the exhibition. The Brooklyn Museum show will address alternative narratives and explore current realities and politics.

The exhibition will present twenty-two NYC-based LGBTQ+ artists born after 1969 whose works—including painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and video—will be displayed across four sections focusing on Revolt, Heritage, Desire, and Care Networks.

The Revolt section will honor those who organized for change before and after the Stonewall riots while the Heritage section will commemorate pioneering activists including Marsha P. JohnsonStormé DeLarverie, Marlon Riggs, and Sylvia Rivera.

Works in the Desire section will explore attraction and intimacy while pieces in the Care Networks section will examine support networks, friendships, and “spaces for experimentation and liberation.”

New works commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum specially for the exhibition include: Tourmaline’s film Salacia, about Mary Jones, a Black transgender woman who lived in NYC during the early nineteenth century and LJ Roberts’s Stormé at Stonewall, a large-scale sculpture honoring the diverse protesters who participated in the Stonewall Uprising—particularly Stormé DeLarverie.

Multiple performances have also been commissioned as part of the schedule of public programs being presented in conjunction with the exhibition. The Forum space in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art will serve as an interactive Resource Room for visitors to learn more about LGBTQ+ histories as well as local resources and organizations.

“The Brooklyn Museum has long been committed to providing a platform for those courageous enough to confront and question history,” Brooklyn Museum Director Anne Pasternak said in a statement. “With Nobody Promised You Tomorrow, we’re telling a more inclusive story of the Stonewall Uprising that connects it directly to the remarkably diverse community of LGBTQ+ artists carrying on the legacy of Stonewall now and into the future.”

Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall
Exhibition on view Friday, May 3 through Sunday, December 8
Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights

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