Many Americas: Art Meets History

Exhibition on view through November 27, 2022

NEW – Starting Saturday, September 24
Exhibition Highlights Tour
Every Saturday
1 p.m. & 2 p.m.
(through November 26)
Meet in the Wilson Museum Lobby

Inspired by Ronald Takaki’s A Different Mirror, the Many Americas exhibition and public programming takes as a premise that we do not share a common history and our divergent histories are the source of our troubled civic discourse. Each of the artworks in the exhibition uses history as their point of departure and speaks to present day issues. The artworks demonstrate the multiple, sometimes competing histories of America. The exhibition will feature approximately two dozen artworks and installations and a variety of audience engagement approaches including texts, guided tours, and programs that draw out the issues raised by the artwork. In doing this, we seek to demonstrate how an art museum can become a public square where people can come together and talk about important civic issues.

To develop the exhibition, guest curator Ric Kasini Kadour undertook an eighteen-month-long research project funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts that examined the intersection of history and contemporary art.

Participating artists include:

Vakseen‘s Fear of a Black Planet offers a critique of American animation’s connection to minstrelsy and reclaims cartoon characters from the Eighties and Nineties as Black heros.

The 3-foot by 10-foot collage, We Pledge Allegiance, by CoCo Harris uses historical news clippings from The Black Chronicle and black-and-white photographs of the American flag to raise questions about patriotism.

Nell Irvin Painter‘s You Say This Can’t Really Be America illustrates for the viewer how different experiences of America play out in conversations. The artwork makes visible the tension when one person questions and negates the experience of another. Lent by the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Eugene and Virginia Palmer Fund for Prints and Drawings.

Lillian Trettin pays homage to the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee for its contributions since the 1930s to the ongoing struggle for organized labor and civil rights.

Dorothea Osborn‘s large, woven tapestry shows a personal family history as layers of sediment, each one informing and blending into the other.

A monumental artwork by EveNSteve explores the history of an American city and its cycles of destruction and creation.

Karsten Creightney‘s painting of a Chicano cemetery on the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico illustrates how the sacred space of one community is not necessarily treated as such by others.

Michael Ryder (Ojibwe) presents a contemporary Dream Catcher that uses personal archive of historical photographs to talk about bodily trauma and to highlight the displacement of native people

Takako Konishi is “inspired by contradictions of one of America’s greatest industrial behemoths, the cotton industry.”

Sharon Shapiro‘s collage paintings of swimming pools call upon the viewer to consider the legacy of recreational segregation. A visual storyteller, Shapiro’s work embodies what it means to have grown up as a white woman in the American South in the 1980s–well after segregation was no longer the law, yet still lived everyday.

Ger Xiong‘s embroidered tapestry speaks to the experience of refugees in America, specifically the Hmong people.

A lithograph by Detroit-artist Mario Moore remembers three African American artists: Henry Ossawa Tanner, Bob Thompson, and David Bustill Bowser.

An installation that combines items from the Dorset Historical Society and items from a private collection speaks to the role material culture plays in shaping history. 

Informed by African practices of adornment, Erin Smith Glenn‘s paintings celebrate Black Hair Culture and invite viewers to consider the role hair salons have played in the Civil Rights Movement and continue to play in the fight for social justice. 

Phyllis Famiglietti‘s collages speak to the history of redlining and reference racial violence that took place in 1943 around Sojourner Truth Housing Project in Detroit.

Glenyse Thompson collages and paints affidavits from the early 20th century to the present as a way of inviting the viewer to consider the consistent application of racial violence as a means of social control and repression that continues to this day. 

A collage of photographs from the Albuquerque Museum’s Photography Archive and a collaborative artwork made with material referencing The Historic New Orleans Collection speak to how artists draw upon historical materials to create a sense of place. 

The exhibition will also include artwork from Southern Vermont Arts Center’s Permanent Collection by Arthur S. Siegel, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Simon & Herta Moselsio, Dong Moy Chu Kingman, Luigi Lucioni, Cleade Enders, Irwin Hoffman, Gordon Samstag, Ernst Ludvig Ipsen, Leonebel Jacobs, and Horace Day.

Please VISIT Curator Ric Kasini Kadour’s companion website where he shares longer commentaries about artwork and the history they reference as well as links to additional media and resources.

Exhibition support provided in part by:


Image: Takako Konishi, Cotton

August 20 at 10:00 am — November 27 at 5:00 pm
10:00 am — 5:00 pm (2383h)

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