Curated by Alex Fialho and Melissa Levin
Michael Richards: Are You Down? is the first museum retrospective of the work of Michael Richards, an Afro-Caribbean artist whose practice reflects on issues of racial inequity, systemic oppression, and diasporic identity. Born in Brooklyn in 1963, and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Richards tragically passed away on 9/11, at the age of 38, while working in his Lower Manhattan Cultural Council studio on the 92nd floor of World Trade Center Tower One. Richards had a close creative relationship to Miami as an artist in residence at ArtCenter/South Florida (now Oolite Arts) from 1997–2000, making the city and MOCA North Miami a meaningful location for this expansive exhibition. Michael Richards: Are You Down? will include nearly all of the existing sculptures and drawings¬by the artist, many recently conserved or newly rediscovered, which will be on display together at MOCA North Miami for the first time since his passing. On view through September 2021, the retrospective also marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with the largest ever exhibition of Richards’ art.
About Michael Richards
Michael Rolando Richards (1963–2001) was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. Richards moved back to the United States to attend Queens College, where he earned a BA in 1985. He received an MA from New York University in 1991, and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program from 1992–93. During his lifetime, Richards won several competitive awards and participated in esteemed artist residencies at institutions including the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Richards had a solo exhibition at Ambrosino Gallery in North Miami in 2000, and was featured in two-person and group exhibitions nationally and internationally at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL; and Debeyard Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, among others throughout his career. His work is held in museum collections including The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; the Brooklyn Museum, NY; the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA; and the Pérez Art Museum Miami, FL. Franconia Sculpture Park, near Minneapolis, MN, is home to a permanent memorial to Michael Richards.
About the curators
Alex Fialho is an art historian, curator and graduate student in Yale University’s Combined Ph.D. program in the History of Art and African American Studies. Fialho is also a contributing writer for Artforum, and previously worked for five years as Programs Director of the New York-based arts non-profit Visual AIDS.
Melissa Levin is an arts administrator and curator with 15 years of experience building artist-centered programs and institutions. Most recently, she was the Vice President of Artists, Estates, and Foundations at Art Agency, Partners following a 12-year tenure at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council as Vice President of Cultural Programs.
Together, Levin and Fialho have curated critically-acclaimed exhibitions dedicated to the late artist Michael Richards’s art, life, and legacy including Michael Richards: Winged (2019: Stanford University, Stanford, CA; 2016: LMCC, NY, NY) referred to by New York Times co-chief art critic Holland Cotter as “the most moving exhibition I’ve seen this summer.” At Stanford, they also co-organized the academic symposium “Flight, Diaspora, Identity, and Afterlife: A Symposium on the Art of Michael Richards” featuring nine Stanford professors, and artists Dread Scott and William Cordova.