Lorraine O’Grady

Art Is...(Dancer in Grass Skirt), 1983/2009

Lorraine O’Grady (American, born 1934), Art Is...(Dancer in Grass Skirt), 1983/2009, chromogenic print, 16 x 20 in. Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard Business School, 2016.8. © Lorraine O’Grady / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

This photograph is from O’Grady’s Art Is... series, which are documents of her performance piece of the same title. In 1983, O’Grady entered a float in the African-American Day Parade in Harlem. She wrote the words “Art Is...” on the float's gold skirt, and on top of the float, she mounted a 9 x 15-foot gilded frame. As the float moved down Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, O’Grady’s 15 collaborators, seen here dressed in white, invited people to pose in the empty gilded picture frames they carried. Onlookers became participants in both the parade and the work of art, many exclaiming, as the frames and float passed by: “Make me art!” and “We're the art!” These photographs are not only documents of the event, but also compelling reminders of the power and joy of art.