An artist who explores her own identity and that of African-American women will present the final Fisher Center lecture of the spring semester.
March 27, 2003 GENEVA, N.Y.—Artist Beverly McIver will give a talk titled “Mammy How I Love You” at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9, in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library on the Hobart and William Smith Colleges campus, as the final Fisher Center event of the spring semester. A roundtable discussion will be held at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, April 10, in the Fisher Center, Demarest 212.
Painting and drawing throughout her life, McIver has explored questions of her own identity and of African-American women. Her clown portraits are self-portraits, exploring both her “desire as a youngster to become a professional clown and ambivalent feelings about being black.” Her current work continues this exploration through racial stereotypes imaged in black face and an Afro wig. In these, she has depicted what she refers to as Aunt Jemima, the nappy-headed nigger, and the mammy, each a part of herself. McIver’s mother has been a personal reference in this new work, as she spent her entire life cleaning houses and raising white children to clothe and feed McIver and her sisters.
Recognized with a Creative Capital grant and a 2001 John Guggenheim Fellowship, McIver has been traveling with her mother to photograph and videotape domestic workers, using these to create photographs and paintings of herself in blackface. McIver's images of black domestic workers seek to make peace with the role of servant as a negative or underclass occupation. McIver’s recent solo exhibitions include “Faces in Phoenix” (2001) in Phoenix, “All of Me” (1999) at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and “Renee & I” (1993) at Duke University. She is the recipient of a 2000 Anonymous Was a Woman fellowship, and is currently a Radcliffe Institute Fellow. McIver is an associate professor of painting and drawing at Arizona State University.
Fisher Center lectures and seminars provide a forum for students, faculty and community members to explore gender issues. The Center, founded with a $1 million gift from Emily and Richard Fisher, whose son Alexander graduated from Hobart College in 1993, seeks to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary gender issues.