SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

June 6, 2013

In conversation

PEM exhibit connects art, race and American culture

The works of art in Peabody Essex Museum’s new exhibit, “In Conversation, Modern African American Art,” have a lot to say.

Each of the 100 paintings, sculptures and photographs, which were created between the 1920s and the 1990s by 43 artists, tells a unique story about the human experience.

But when grouped together in three galleries at the museum, where connections between the works become apparent, their stories develop into overlapping dialogues about race, art and American culture and history.

“The show is organized as evocative, visual conversations,” said Lynda Hartigan, the James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes Chief Curator at the museum. “As if the works are calling and responding to one another as intimate and even urgent, urgent images of identity, interaction and change.”

Hartigan developed an intimate bond with these works, which she referred to as “old friends,” when she selected many of them for the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where she worked from 1983 to 2003.

“We can have really wonderful conversations about some of the challenges of building a national collection, at a time when many museums in this country simply did not want to think about including the work of African American artists,” she said.

The period these works are drawn from includes not only some of the most important artistic movements, but milestones in African American history, from the Harlem Renaissance and the Great Migration from the South to the North, to the civil rights movement.

If some museums have resisted showing African American art, at Peabody Essex Museum there is a “love for doing things differently,” Hartigan said.

For this show, that has meant including unique features in the galleries to facilitate conversations, among visitors and between people and paintings.

Curators’ comments are printed in binders, along with reproductions of the images, in racks on the wall. Less cumbersome than catalogs, and less distracting than texts mounted on the wall, they are a handy way to hear what others think before moving on to the next gallery.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Lifestyle
  • Monday's Best Bets Best Bets for Monday, July 28

    Looking for something to do today? Check out The Salem News' Best Bets.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dear Abby: Son-in-law’s abusive father makes gatherings painful Dear Abby: I adore my son-in-law, "Tom." He's a wonderful husband to our daughter. He's always inviting us to dinner along with his parents and family. We get along with them but can't stand how they treat Tom. We have never seen parents treat their

    July 28, 2014

  • This weekend's Best Bets Best Bets for Saturday, July 26

    Looking for something to do today? Check out The Salem News' Best Bets:

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • North Shore religion news in brief Congregation Shirat Hayam is offering a free, five-week Hebrew Reading Crash Course on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. from Sept. 2 through Oct. 7, at the synagogue, 55 Atlantic Ave., Swampscott. Led by Nancy Miller, the course is open to the community and is

    July 26, 2014

  • North Shore religion calendar Wednesday, July 30 Book Club, 7 p.m., Aviv Centers for Living, 240 Lynnfield St., Peabody. Women of all ages are invited to a free book group with conversations about Jewish identity. Group will discuss "The Harem Midwife" by Roberta Rich. RSVP to Sh

    July 26, 2014

  • Dear Abby: Teen is looking for direction after high school graduation Dear Abby: I am an 18-year-old high school senior who is scared about what's going to happen after graduation. For the past three years I have known exactly where I'll be and what I will be doing in the general sense. Now that I have one more year to

    July 26, 2014

  • macaws Vet Connection: Pet birds need training, social interaction and time out of the cage People are fascinated with the big colorful birds on display at Animal Kingdom and wild bird sanctuaries. It's always fascinating to see someone walking down the street with a big-beaked bird on his or her shoulder as a companion. We are all drawn to

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ask Dog Lady: Her little dog is obsessed with food Dear Dog Lady: I have a 3-year-old, long-coated Chihuahua named Mexipep (after a brand of hot sauce). She has many fine attributes -- she's very sweet, not nervous and barky like the short-coated Chihuahuas can be. On the subject of food, however, th

    July 25, 2014

  • howe Book Notes: Local novelist sees ‘conversion’ syndrome in witch trials The parallels between 1692 and today are so close, they're frightening. That's one conclusion you could draw from reading "Conversion," Marblehead resident Katherine Howe's new novel, which compares the world of the Salem Witch Trials to the life of

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • vehicles Quick pick: Festival of vehicles

    Festival of vehicles Take a ride over to the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library for the 16th annual Vehicle Night on Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The festival of fire trucks, emergency vehicles, cruisers and snow plows takes place in the library park

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

NDN Video
Comments Tracker