Carrie Mae Weems: "I once knew a girl"
The Cooper Gallery presented the evocative work of internationally acclaimed photography and video installation artist Carrie Mae Weems, recipient of the 2013 MacArthur “Genius” grant and the 2015 W. E. B. Du Bois Medal. The exhibition highlighted her storytelling tableaux that question our social constructs of power, race, and space and pose a more multi-dimensional concept of humanity. Organized in three parts, Beauty, Legacies, and Landscapes, the installation illuminated our social and aesthetic vistas—both real and imagined—and centered on Weems' stunning expressions of black beauty.
The Woven Arc
THE WOVEN ARC explored the visual dialogues between an unusual selection of artworks not usually posed in conversation with each other: figurative and abstract sculptures, paintings, prints, and textiles, along with mixed media and performance-based video. Three artworks from our permanent collection—a Yinka Shonibare Food Faerie, a Nick Cave Soundsuit, and a conceptual piece by Peter Sacks—inspired us to consider other artworks that vibrate and move with sumptuous surfaces, embedded texts, an overt and oblique presence of the black body, and our historical legacies of the African and African American experience.
Art of Jazz: Form/ Performance/ Notes
The three-part exhibition “Art of Jazz: Form/Performance/Notes" held in conjunction with the Harvard Art Museums, private collectors, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and two Manhattan galleries—DC Moore Gallery and Luhring Augustine Gallery—explored the intersection of jazz music and the visual arts. Through more than 70 pieces ranging from early Jazz Age objects and mid-century jazz ephemera to contemporary works by established African American artists, “Art of Jazz” traced the beginnings of jazz in visual culture and how it was embraced internationally as an art form, a social movement, and a musical iconography for Black expression.