Geneva, NY — The art exhibition Looking Forward, Looking Black has stirred up controversy since it opened in Detroit, Michigan, in February. The show, which features the works of two Hobart and William Smith professors, will open in the Houghton House Gallery on the HWS campus on Friday, April 30. Racist memorabilia images, such as those of Sambos and minstrels, have supporters and critics talking about the show.
Art collaborators explain that the exhibition Looking Forward, Looking Black aims to examine race, representation, and the contested cultural constructions of identity. The black body has been everywhere in evidence in painting, film, photography — even cookie jars and lawn ornaments — and at the same time been rendered invisible, organizers explain. The artists in this exhibition, beginning with Maria Howard Weeden’s 1895 portraits of ex-slaves, reflect upon the vicissitudes of the representation of the black body over the century and look forward to forming a different picture of diasporic black peoples in the new millennium.
Some of the artists and essayists include: Emma Amos, an artist living in New York City; Jo Anna Isaak, art history professor at HWS; Marilyn Jimenez, director of Africana studies at HWS; Heather Sealy Lineberry, senior curator at Arizona State University Art Museum; Rob Perree, curator living in Amsterdam; Ingrid Schaffner, writer and curator living in New York City; Christina Sharpe, English professor at Tufts University; and Peter Williams, an artist living in Detroit.
The exhibition will be on display until May 24 and will then be moved to The Yager Museum, Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York, where it will be displayed until June 15. It first opened at the Elaine L. Jacob Gallery, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, on February 5.
The Houghton House Gallery is open weekdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and weekends from noon until 5 p.m.