Director Linda (Duke) and I arrived in New York a day before the start of the K-State NY Arts Adventure donors’ trip and took the opportunity to see the Kerry James Marshall retrospective at the Met Breuer. Kerry James Marshall was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1955 and is known for challenging the marginalization of African Americans through his work. Marshall used his experience in Birmingham and Los Angeles to make visible African American culture and figures in mainstream American art and at the same time, expose African American stereotypes embedded in popular culture.
This show, titled Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, is the largest museum retrospective to date and it includes nearly 80 works, 72 of which are paintings. It was exciting to see a Kansas contribution to this important show, represented by a painting loaned by K-State alumni Dick and Gloria Anderson. The painting, acrylic and collage on canvas, is titled Campfire Girls (1995).
Linda and I were inspired to see many people linger for minutes in front of each Marshall work, and hear conversations about details they noticed and what they could mean. People were making connections among the different works also, noting how a particular motif, such as a bird, appeared repeatedly and linked the works scattered throughout the galleries. The conversations germinating around the art demonstrated the power of a master artist like Kerry James Marshall to inspire deep thought and meaningful interaction. What we witnessed reminded us of the important role art, and artists, play in people’s lives.
This blog was written by Beach Museum of Art curator Aileen Wang.