On Abstraction: Things You Can't Tell Just by Looking at Us

Daonne Huff, Untitled, 2001. Image courtesy of the artist.

Moving from recollections of her early years as a painter to her current engagement with abstraction, artist, writer and Director Public Programs & Community Engagement at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Daonne Huff, offers up some personal and political insights about what it might mean to make and view art. In the first essay for The Studio Museum in Harlem’s series called The Flow, Huff charts an experimental field of discourse about the composition and content of art. Mirroring her own techniques of referentiality and abstraction, Huff shares insights directly from her singular purview in the world.

“Abstraction removes the barrier to entry and brings the viewer in direct engagement with the artist’s thoughts and visions. Your read, your experience is dictated by what pulls you in . . . New vocabularies are developed, new glossaries necessary that are distinctly defined by the artist and not by pre-existing social, cultural, critical expectations, or norms.”