An exhibit curated by Gund Gallery Associates, “Black Women/Black Lives,” wove together a quilt, historical photos, paintings and underground publications about civil rights to explore the portrayal of black women in modern art and material culture.
Work on the exhibit began in the fall, when three associates traveled to the Interference Archive in Brooklyn, New York. They searched through the collection and borrowed some of its posters, pamphlets, buttons and even a T-shirt from the black power movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The students scanned about 100 pages of the printed material, which visitors could view on a digital tablet in the gallery.
“The show proposal really came together from that visit,” said Rose Bishop ’17, an art history major from Sag Harbor, New York. “We found a lot of stuff, and it’s cool because it wasn't just protest material from the U.S., but also from Zimbabwe and South America. This show really filled in a lot of the gaps in my own knowledge of these movements.”
Bishop was one of nine associates who worked on the exhibit, which tackled the themes of “Women on the Front Lines,” “Radical Motherhood” and “Beauty, Politics and Femininity.” She compared the experience of curating the exhibit to structuring a term paper. “But all of your paragraphs are physical objects,” she said. “How do you arrange them to tell a story?”
“It took a lot of patience and waiting for the show and its themes to come together naturally, instead of trying to force it,” explained Jenna Wendler '17, an art history major from Villa Park, California. Writing the wall-mounted descriptions of the works took weeks, she added. "I learned how vast the experience of curating an exhibit is and how lucky I am to do it here."
Jodi Kovach, the gallery's curator of academic programs, helped supervise the students’ work on the exhibit and praised their professionalism throughout the process. “Their knowledge of pop culture and how these issues really resonate today come through in the exhibit,” Kovach said.
“Black Women/Black Lives” also featured six pieces given to the gallery’s collection by Gund Gallery Board Member David Horvitz ’74 H’98 and his wife, Francie Bishop Good. The couple donated a quilt by Faith Ringgold, a collage by Romare Bearden, a painting by Jacob Lawrence, and three black and white photos from the civil rights movement.
The exhibit is located in the Meier-Draudt Curatorial Classroom on the ground floor of the Gund Gallery. Gallery exhibitions and programs are made possible, in part, by the Gund Gallery Board of Directors and the Ohio Arts Council.