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Snite Museum exhibit focuses on African experience

| Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Snite Museum of Art’s new fall exhibit stretches through numerous rooms with large paintings, sculptures and even electric metal signs. Biographies of the many artists adorn the walls alongside their respective artwork, giving more of a story to each piece. Each work of art tells some kind of rich and brilliant story, typically etched into the history of the black experience.

This exhibit, entitled “Solidary and Solitary: the Joyner/Giuffrida Collection,” was brought to the Snite Museum by curators Christopher Bedford and Katy Siegel. It celebrates black artists and will be up for viewing in the museum until December 15.

According to a press release from the Snite Museum, this is a historical exhibition that offers a new perspective on issues people of African descent have faced throughout history.

“This will be the first large-scale public exhibition to bring together a vital lineage of visionary black artists,” the press release said. “This exhibition offers a new perspective on the critical contribution black artists have made to the evolution of visual art from the 1940s through the present day.”

Gina Costa, marketing and public relations manager for the Snite Museum, said this exhibition has been on display around the country and the former director of the Snite, Charles Loving, worked with the Baltimore Museum of Art to get “Solidary and Solitary” to Notre Dame. However, because of space limitations, the Snite Museum can only show part of the exhibit.

“It was a great opportunity for the museum to display an exhibition that offers a new perspective of the critical contribution of black artists,” Costa said. “These works reveal how African artists have used abstraction as a visual vocabulary to talk about the issue of being black, social struggles and the international African diaspora.”

The exhibit displays works from a wide variety of artists using several different mediums. Some include oil canvas paintings, re-draped canvas, sculptures, found fabric and more.

Costa said the most notable artists are Sam Gilliam, Norman Lewis and Kevin Beasley.

Quoting the Snite press release, Costa said “the entire collection is really of an unparalleled level and shows the power of abstract art as a profound political choice rather than just a stylistic preference for generations of artists.”

According to the press release, “[the exhibit] will reveal a rich and complex history woven from the threads of artistic debates about how to embody blackness, social struggle and change.”

Museum visitors will have the opportunity to meet the curators, Bedford and Siegel, during a free public reception with refreshments on the evening of Oct. 26.

Costa also said she wanted to emphasize the accessibility of the Snite Museum to Notre Dame students.

“Students often don’t know that the museum is free and open to the public. It’s their museum.”

Editor‘s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the role of Christopher Bedford and Katy Siegel in the Snite Museum’s new exhibition. Bedford and Siegel are the curators of the exhibition. The Observer regrets this error.

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