If you don’t know Kerry James Marshall’s work, you’re going to need to sit down and have some time to study his paintings. The textures and colors and subtle details are breathtaking. We had the opportunity to see his work exhibited at MOCA in Los Angeles a few years ago and its changed my experience of every museum I’ve gone into since.
His work explores issues of race and history through formal portraits, scenes of Black life and also comics. He wanted to document Black subjects who have purposefully and historically been left out of museum collections. His work is so vivid and colorful and intensely beautiful, that it brought tears to my eyes. When I looked around me, I also recognized a change. The museum audience and attendees were not predominantly white, they were Black and Latinx, young and old, taking in these powerful images of Black men and women centered as the subjects. It forces you to see what is there and also what is not there at the same time. It forced me to recognize that most of my life, I had witnessed a very narrow slice of life within the museum setting, a portrayal of mostly white narratives and white bodies. This show changed me and I’m sure many other people who saw it. I am forever grateful to Kerry James Marshall for the work he makes and continues to make.
NY times 2016 article - https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/17/t-magazine/kerry-james-marshall-artist.html
Interview with Kerry - https://youtu.be/FhtS2-jbo5A
Donate to a Black led youth organization, helping to engage young people from the ages of 3-24 through a variety of Arts Programming - https://www.createnow.org