Exhibitions - Our first and last love

Lyle Ashton Harris
Our first and last love

05.19.24 – 09.22.24

An image of the artwork

Image: Lyle Ashton Harris, "Succession", 2020, Ghanaian cloth, dye sublimation prints, and artist’s ephemera. Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Mortimer and Sara Hays Acquisition Fund, 2023.4. Courtesy the artist.

Drawing together photographs and installations from both his celebrated and lesser-known series, Lyle Ashton Harris: Our first and last love charts new connections across the artistic practice of Lyle Ashton Harris (b. 1965, Bronx, NY). The exhibition explores Harris’s critical examination of identity and self-portraiture while tracing central themes and formal approaches in his work of the last 35 years.


The artist’s recently-completed Shadow Works anchor the exhibition. In these meticulous constructions, photographic prints are set within geometric frames of stretched Ghanaian funerary textiles, along with shells, shards of pottery, and cuttings of the artist’s own hair. Our first and last love follows the cues of the Shadow Works’ collaged and pictured elements—which include earlier artworks and reference materials, personal snapshots, and handwritten notes—to shed light on Harris’s layered approach to his practice.


Harris’s work engages with broad social and political dialogues while also speaking with revelatory tenderness to his own communities, and to personal struggles, sorrows, and self-illuminations. Groupings centered around singular Shadow Works will expand upon these multiple throughlines, including Harris’s continued examination of otherness and belonging; the framing and self-presentation of Black and queer individuals; violence as a dark undercurrent of intimacy and desire; tenderness and vulnerability; and notions of legacy—both inherited and self-defined.


Lyle Ashton Harris: Our first and last love is co-organized by the Queens Museum and the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, and is co-curated by Lauren Haynes, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Programs, Queens Museum and Caitlin Julia Rubin, Associate Curator, Rose Art Museum.


About the Artist

Lyle Ashton Harris (b. Bronx, N.Y, 1965) was raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and New York. Harris obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts. He attended the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. Harris’s work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate, London, UK; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland, among others. Harris is a Professor of Art at New York University and lives in New York.


Exhibition Catalogue

Co-published by Gregory R. Miller & Co., Queens Museum of Art, and Rose Art Museum. Foreword by Gannit Ankori, Sally Tallant. Text by Nana Adusei-Poku, Roderick A. Ferguson, Ariel Goldberg. Conversation with Lyle Ashton Harris, Lauren Haynes, Caitlin Julia Rubin. Preorder your copy today.


Lyle Ashton Harris: Our first and last love is made possible in part by lead support from the Teiger Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Agnes Gund, and Noel Kirnon. Additional support is provided by the Queens Museum Exhibitions Circle.


The Queens Museum is housed in the New York City Building, which is owned by the City of New York.


The Museum is supported, in part, by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with Mayor Eric Adams, the Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and the New York City Council under the leadership of Speaker Adrienne E. Adams.


Major funding is generously provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ford Foundation, Hearst Foundations, Jerome Foundation, Lambent Foundation, MacMillan Family Foundation, Mellon Foundation, E.A. Michelson Philanthropy, New York Community Trust, Richmond County Savings Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.