Soak Test

Filmmaker Linda Goode Bryant on Summoning to Patience

The 1974 establishment of Just Above Midtown (JAM) altered the chemistry of contemporary artistry thanks to Linda Goode Bryant. Pinned to its purpose of existing “in, but not of, the art world,” the artist, activist, and filmmaker used the New York gallery to carve out space for Black art and performance for 12 years. Now, almost 50 years after its birth, Goode Bryant, who also founded the urban farm initiative Project EATS in 2009, is reflecting on JAM’s impact with institutional support: on October 9, the Museum of Modern Art will open an exhibition dedicated to the project’s legacy of experimentation and inclusivity.

A woman in a garden.
Filmmaker and activist Linda Goode Bryant. Photography by Oresti Tsonopoulos.

Has anyone ever told you to quit?

Many times.

And what did you learn from not listening?

I learned to believe in the words my paternal grandmother told me, “You can do whatever you set your mind to.”

What if, anything, gets easier with time? What gets harder?

To accept my flaws over time, which makes it easier for me to accept that in others. What’s getting harder is not to succumb to the trap of nostalgia.

How do you summon patience into your practice?

Different ways. Sometimes, I’ll engage the work of artists and connect to the patience their work requires. Sometimes I go so deep into the process of making that I’m not concerned about the outcome, which can make me impatient. Instead, I just soak in what I’m learning from making something and feel good.

What are the key ingredients to a great career?

Vision, belief, resourcefulness, and determination.