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Lyle Ashton Harris and Rico Washington

June 2020, Artist Playlists

About the Playlist

Lyle Ashton Harris and Rico Washington

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Music is an art form that has the power to transport us back in time. It can serve as a master key that unlocks the vast archive of our memories. This playlist is a personal time capsule, one that captures a unique shared experience: two newly acquainted creative spirits ensconced in the bucolic landscape of the upper Hudson Valley during a pandemic. A few weeks prior to our shared isolation, we were introduced by a mutual friend, the songwriter Gordon Chambers, at a book signing and discussion for Coal, War & Love: A Novel by my mother, Rudean Leinaeng, at New York University’s Institute of African American Affairs and Center for Black Visual Culture. We gelled as we talked and shared laughs over dinner afterwards, fostering a deep rapport over the ensuing weeks. Before the COVID-19 crisis in the United States had sprouted roots of fear and panic, we had planned on spending a few days in Germantown, New York, as a getaway from New York City. Unbeknownst to us, we would soon embark on an adventure as we sheltered together for twenty-six nights and twenty-seven days.

It was a textured and complicated period, accentuated by the emotional toll that social isolation brought upon us. We grieved the deaths of friends and mentors such as art world titans Maurice Berger and David Driskell as well as New York City activist Shirley Campbell. Amidst the intense uncertainty and mounting anxiety, we cooked together, listened to music, hiked, danced, worked, exchanged ideas, and meditated. In today’s world, where social interactions are limited to the essential and the craving for personal connection has intensified, we learned to practice gratitude for each other’s presences and companionship. This unusual yet rich experience, with all its challenges and seemingly insurmountable impediments, was a gift and an invaluable moment in time now trapped in amber. A time that coincided with the transition from the chill of winter to the promise of spring. A time of learning about each other in an unprecedented, accelerated fashion. From folk and funk to R & B and punk, this playlist comprises the soundtrack of our twenty-six night, twenty-seven day period of cohabitation in quarantine.

—Lyle Ashton Harris and Rico Washington



Lyle Ashton Harris

Lyle Ashton Harris was born in New York City in 1965, where he currently lives. 

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Rico Washington

Rico Washington was born in Washington, DC. He lives in Berlin, New York City, and Paris.

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