Racial Imaginary

Nichols Gallery

September 20 – December 5, 2014

Artists: Liz Cohen, Edgar Endress, EJ Hill, Todd Gray, John Jota Leaños, Nery Gabriel Lemus, Charles McGill, Amitis Motevalli, Dread Scott, Alice Shaw, Kyungmi Shin, Texist, Ian Weaver and Jay Wolke

racial-imaginary-Paar1 Amitis Motevalli Confiscated Portrait of the Artist as a Young Rebel (2005/2010) Digital C-print Dimensions variable

Racial Imaginary is an interdisciplinary exhibition that looks at the intersection of poetry, prose and contemporary art. It is a further iteration of the book and will feature the visual artists who have struggled alongside their literary counterparts in constructing a creative discourse that focuses on its subjects not as objects, of individual outlines discernable apart from the overwhelming contrast of their landscape. The creative imagination is framed by its palpable confines; the history of women is primarily written in relationship to men, of Blacks (and others) in relation to Whiteness. How does an artist—literary, visual, performative—contrive a vernacular that is rich and evocative but doesn’t reproduce familiar narratives and binaries?

Edgar Endress Still from Acts of Erasure nº2 (2014) Video 00:55 min. Edgar Endress Still from Acts of Erasure nº2 (2014) Video 00:55 min.

The show forms part of a larger project that includes a book of the same title edited by award-winning poet Claudia Rankine, who just received the prestigious Jackson Poetry Prize for exceptional US poets, and author Beth Loffreda from the University of Wyoming. The book examines race, gender and cultural representations, and comprises poems and essays, which have been further articulated through the addition of artworks, curated into the book, by artist, Max King Cap.

Related Events

Opening Reception

Saturday, September 20, 2-4 p.m.
Nichols Gallery

Alice Shaw Opposite #5 (2007) Gold toned gelatin silver print Diptych, 8 x 10 in. each

Artist Lecture

Thursday, October 9, 11 a.m.
Nichols Gallery

Artist Amitis Motevalli will join Professor Bill Anthes and his First Year Seminar students to discuss her work.

The Annual Murray Pepper & Vicki Reynolds Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artist & Scholar Lecture Series

Monday, November 10, 4:15 p.m.
George C.S. Benson Auditorium

In conjunction with the exhibition, Claudia Rankine will discuss her book Racial Imaginary with co-editors, Beth Loffreda and Max King Cap.

 “Art in Writing” workshop led by Claudia Rankine, Beth Loffreda and Max King Cap

Tuesday, November 11, 11 a.m.

All events are free and open to the public.

About the Artists

Claudia Rankine is the author of four collections of poetry, including Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and the plays, Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue (co-authored with Casey Llewellyn). Rankine is co-editor of American Women Poets in the Twenty-First Century series (Wesleyan University Press). Forthcoming in 2014 are That Were Once Beautiful Children (Graywolf Press) and The Racial Imaginary (Fence Books). A recipient of fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the National Endowment for the Arts, Rankine teaches at Pomona College.

Liz Cohen’s performance art/photography has been shown extensively throughout the US and Europe. Cohen is represented by Salon 94, Galerie Laurent Godin and David Klein Gallery. She is an artist-in-residence at the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Edgar Endress teaches new media and public art at George Mason University. Born in Chile, he has exhibited extensively throughout the Americas. His work focuses on syncretism in the Andes, displacement in the Caribbean and mobile art-making practices. He received his MFA in Video Art from Syracuse University. He has received grants and fellowships from numerous institutions, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Creative Capital Fund.

EJ Hill is a performance artist who continually struggles with the complexity of the body’s cultural and historical inheritances and implications. A native of South Central Los Angeles, Hill’s work has been exhibited throughout the US and internationally. He received his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Todd Gray is a professor of art at California State University, Long Beach. Gray has shown his work throughout the US and internationally. He is represented in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; MOCA, Los Angeles; University of Parma  in Italy; and other collections. He received his BFA and MFA from California Institute of the Arts.

John Jota Leaños is a social art practitioner who utilizes a range of media focusing on the convergence of memory, social space and decolonization. His work has been shown at the Sundance 2010 Film Festival and the 2002 Whitney Biennial, among others. Leaños is a Creative Capital Grantee and a Guggenheim Fellow (2013) who has been an artist-in-residence at many institutions. Leaños is an associate professor of social documentation at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Nery Gabriel Lemus is a Los-Angeles based artist whose work addresses issues of stereotype and immigration, the intersection of racial and dissociative racism; and the poverty, abuse and neglect that can lead to the failure of families. Lemus is a recipient of a COLA Fellowship Grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles, and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Fellowship Award. He is represented by Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles. Lemus received his BFA at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts. He also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.

Charles McGill is a multidisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited in the US and Europe and has been reviewed in The New York Times and Art in America. A recipient of the 2014 recipient of the distinguished Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, an Art Matters and New York Foundation for the Arts grant, as well as fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, he is a former artist-in-residence at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. McGill received an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and is is an Assistant Professor at The Borough of Manhattan Community College in in NYC. He is represented by Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York.

Amitis Motevalli was born in Iran and moved to the US in 1977, prior to the revolution. She explores the cultural resistance and survival of people living in poverty, conflict and war. Her working-class immigrant background drives her art that contests stereotypical beliefs about people living in diaspora and criticizes of the violence of dominance and occupation, while invoking the significance of secular grassroots struggle. Motevalli works with transnational Muslims, across economic and political borders, to create an active and resistant cultural discourse. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

Dread Scott makes revolutionary art to propel history forward. In 1989, the entire US Senate denounced his artwork and President George H. Bush declared it “disgraceful” because of its use of the American flag. His work is exhibited in the US and internationally. A recipient of a Creative Capital Grant, his work is included in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Alice Shaw is an artist and educator based in San Francisco, CA. Her photographs have been shown internationally. Shaw is represented by Gallery 16 in San Francisco. A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute and a recipient of a 2002 Artadia Award, Shaw often infuses personal/reflexive documentation with humor and poignancy. She has practiced photography for more than 25 years and she has been a visiting lecturer at University of California, Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz, University of California, Berkeley, San Francisco State University, The California College of Art and The San Francisco Art Institute. Her book, People Who Look Like Me, was published in April of 2006.

Kyungmi Shin, a sculptor and an installation artist, has received grants from the California Community Foundation, Durfee Grant, Pasadena City Individual Artist Fellowship and LA Cultural Affairs Artist-in-Residence program. Since 2004, she has created numerous public art projects across the nation, including Los Angeles, CA, Winston-Salem, NC, Chicago, IL, and Norfolk, VA. She received her MFA from UC Berkeley.

Ian Weaver is a Chicago-based visual artist and teaches in South Bend, IN. He received his MFA in Visual Art from Washington University in St. Louis and his work has been seen at many museums. He has been a recipient of numerous residencies, including Yaddo and the Millay Colony, and his awards include grants from Artadia and the Joan Mitchell foundations.

Jay Wolke is an artist and educator living in Chicago. He has authored three photographic monographs, including most recently Architecture of Resignation: Photographs from the Mezzogiorno (Center for American Places– Columbia College Press, 2011). Wolke earned his BFA at Washington University, St. Louis and his MS at IIT Institute of Design. His photographs are in many permanent collections. He is a professor and chair of the Art and Design Department, Columbia College, Chicago.

Last modified by Laurie Babcock, on December 12, 2015.