Mavis Pusey Exhibition

The Art Students League of New York

poster for Mavis Pusey Exhibition

This event has ended.

The Art Students League of New York presents an exclusive exhibition of Mavis Pusey’s work, following her passing in April. The exhibition, “In Memoriam: Mavis Iona Pusey, 1928–2019,” was organized by the League’s own Genevieve Martin and showcases thirteen works on paper that were generously gifted by the artist in 2004 to The League’s Permanent Collection.

To date, this is the largest solo presentation of Mavis Pusey at a major arts institution. Pusey’s hard-edged, geometric compositions inspired by the streets of NYC and her visualizations of rhythm and movement represent a critical piece in the history of American abstraction.

A highlight of The League’s Mavis Pusey exhibition is a monumental and interactive reproduction of a handwritten wish list found among Ms. Pusey’s papers from the late 1980s. “I want to make enough money to live on, through my art,” one wish read. “I desire the sum of $1,00,000 (one million dollar) from unexpected sources,” read another. Guests of the exhibition are encouraged to produce their own wish lists and post them on a community wall.

On Wednesday, June 19th, The Art Students League hosted a memorial service for Mavis Pusey in conjunction with its current exhibition. Special speakers who joined in celebrating the life and art of the artist included Hallie Ringle, Hugh Kaul Curator of Contemporary Art at The Birmingham Museum of Art and Thelma Golden Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, the world’s leading institution devoted to visual art by artists of African descent.

“Today we are honoring the legacy of this great pioneering, radical, African American, woman artist who created a world that was not created for her. Mavis Pusey made a path in the art world that was not completely open to her. She created for herself opportunities that didn’t exist before and in doing so created opportunities for so many others” said Golden.

Ringle has been working on a major traveling exhibition co-presented by The Studio Museum in Harlem and The Birmingham Museum of Art. She is also developing the first-ever monograph of Pusey’s work, which recently garnered her a prestigious Warhol Curatorial Fellowship.


Mavis Pusey was born in Retreat, Jamaica and moved to New York City at the age of 18 to pursue a degree in fashion design. She encountered financial challenges in the city and ultimately left her studies taking work sewing couture wedding gowns. Pusey later transferred to The Art Students League after securing a prestigious scholarship from the Ford Foundation. It was at The League that Pusey met painter and printmaker Will Barnet who became a life-long mentor and friend. Barnet encouraged Pusey to continue working in painting and introduced her to the work by modern masters like Wassily Kandinsky whose energy, rhythm, and movement deeply impacted her practice. Pusey has received numerous awards from the Pollock Krasner Foundation and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, worked in the Robert Blackburn Printmaking studios for several years, exhibited at the Rainbow Art Foundation, and was included in numerous major exhibitions including the seminal “Contemporary Black Artists in America” held at the Whitney in 1971.

“I use color and texture to convey the tension that is the heartbeat of the city… I see the new construction as a rebirth, a catalyst for a new environment, and since the past must be a link to the future, in each of my works…. there is a circle to depict the never-ending continuation of natural order and all matter.” - Mavis Iona Pusey (1928–2019)



from June 19, 2019 to August 16, 2019


Mavis Pusey

  • Facebook


    All content on this site is © their respective owner(s).
    New York Art Beat (2008) - About - Contact - Privacy - Terms of Use