March 1, 2024

artcasso

Super Art is Almost

New art exhibition celebrates contribution of Black artists

February is the one month we focus on Black History and the contributions that Black Americans bring to our communities. Vassar Lehman Loeb Art Center currently has a jewel of on art exhibit up, “Visible Bodies: Representing Blackness,” curated from Vassar’s permanent collection by Jessica D. Brier, a Deknatel Curatorial Fellow in Photography.

In her curatorial statement Brier writes: “Throughout its history, photography has held the powerful promise of making the world more visible. Lived experiences – both individual and collective – are often represented by the visibility of human figures.” 

Installation view with artwork by Carrie Me Weems, Fred Wilson, and Mickalene Thomas, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.

“Visible Bodies” explores visual culture and questions who is allowed to participate within that culture. The exhibit is situated in an intimate gallery encouraging time to ponder the works, such as Arnold Joseph Kemp’s “Possible Bibliography.” 

This photo project shows an alternative representation of literary history by the artist who has photographed himself holding 52 books and literary works by Black authors. There are selected photographs displayed in a vitrine, but seeing all 52 prints scroll by on the video allows you to consider how many of the authors and books might be familiar to you.

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Unknown (American), "Two Freed Black Men," ca. 1860s, Tintype, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Purchase, Advisory Council for Photography, 2018.17.2.

Several exhibited tintypes are examples of Black individuals using photography as a means to control depictions of themselves. In one, two Black men are nicely dressed in suits, hats and ties. They are positioned beside a plinth to ensure they don’t move in the few minutes it takes to capture the image to the exposed photographic plate. These studio portraits were a popular way to create, as Brier writes, an image “in which identity is constructed and negotiated, rather than assigned and fixed.”