In 1982, while working on a special issue of the feminist journal Heresies, a Black collaborator who was not an artist asserted that “avant-garde art doesn’t have anything to do with Black people.” O’Grady’s response was to create a performance for one of the largest and most vibrant Black spaces she could find in New York—the September 1983 Afro-American Day Parade in Harlem.

As Mlle Bourgeoise Noire, marked by the pair of white gloves pinned to her T-shirt, O’Grady fashioned a 9 × 10–foot antique-style gilt frame on a gold-skirted parade float, with the assistance of artists George Mingo and Richard DeGussi. As the giant frame moved slowly up Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, the frame captured neighborhood views to make striking vignettes of the urban landscape while performers holding smaller frames transformed spectators into living works of art. The celebratory gesture—people along the parade route called out, “Frame me, make me art!”—captured the spirit of the moment, spreading joy and making art relevant as both an avant-garde concept and a meaningful form of expression for the Black community.