Panelists include Kerry James Marshall, artist; James Meyer, associate curator of modern art, National Gallery of Art; Mary Pattillo, Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, Northwestern University; Hortense J. Spillers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor, English department, Vanderbilt University; Dan S. Wang, artist and writer. The central theme of the exhibition In the Tower: Kerry James Marshall, on view through December 8, 2013, at the National Gallery of Art, is the Middle Passage—the violent journey of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas during the colonial and antebellum periods—and its traumatic impact in the lives and memories of African Americans in particular. Marshall’s show begins with images of human beings and the open sea, of sailboats and an amusement-park water ride, evocative of the Middle Passage. Yet the exhibition also includes scenes of backyard pools, suburban lawns, and white picket fences, of children riding bikes and celebrating the Fourth of July. The memory of the slave ships seems remote from Marshall’s paintings of suburbs, part of the artist’s Housing series. In fact, all of these works examine the American Dream from an African American perspective: the middle-class children and adults depicted in these scenes are haunted by the memory of a trauma that they did not experience personally but which impacts them in ways that are not easily understood. In the art of Marshall, the past is never really past; history exerts a pressure, often unconscious, on the living. In this program recorded on October 27, 2013, Kerry James Marshall and exhibition curator James Meyer are joined by panelists Mary Pattillo, Hortense J. Spillers, and Dan S. Wang to discuss varying perspectives on race and class in contemporary America.
Conversations with Artists Series
The Conversations with Artists series began in 1985 to highlight distinguished contemporary artists whose work is featured in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art.
Kerry James Marshall in conversation with James Meyer, associate curator of modern art, National Gallery of Art. Kerry James Marshall has exhibited widely in both the United States and abroad and is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, among other honors. His work often explores the experiences of African Americans and narratives of American history that have historically excluded black people. Drawing upon the artist’s prodigious knowledge of art history and African diasporic culture, his paintings combine figurative and abstract styles and multiple allusions. In Marshall’s art, the past is never truly past: history exerts a constant, often unconscious pressure on the living. In this program recorded on June 26, 2013, Marshall discusses the works and themes of his exhibition In the Tower: Kerry James Marshall, on view at the Gallery from June 28 to December 7, 2013.
Leo Villareal, artist, in conversation with Molly Donovan, associate curator of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art. In this podcast recorded on September 7, 2008, at the National Gallery of Art, American artist Leo Villareal and curator Molly Donovan discuss Villareal's Multiverse installation, which occupies the Concourse walkway between the East and West Buildings of the National Gallery of Art. Installed between September and December of 2008, Multiverse is one of the largest and most complex light sculptures created by the artist, featuring approximately 41,000 computer-programmed LED (light-emitting diode) nodes that run through channels along the 200-foot-long space.