Resilience: African American Artists As Agents of Change

September 14-February 2, 2020


2019 resilience mayhew stout 2x1 72

Left: Richard Mayhew, Mohawk Hills, 1974, oil on canvas. Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Gift of the National Endowment for the Arts and Mr. and Mrs. Donald S. Gilmore Right: Renée Stout, Marie Laveau, 2009, color lithograph. Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Elisabeth Claire Lahti Fund Purchase


Resilience: African American Artists As Agents of Change presents outstanding artworks created by artists who have enlightened and uplifted America in myriad ways. The exhibition honors aspects of African American history and culture that contribute to all of our nation's history and culture. The exhibition spotlights a group of artists who use art as an indispensable tool for social commentary and change.

The exhibition runs concurrently with Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem and Where We Stand: Black Artists in Southwest Michigan.

The artworks assembled here--paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and sculpture--reflect an important part of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts' collecting history. Many were created by world-renowned artists and are regarded as masterworks.

Together, the artworks in Resilience can be interpreted as a visual poem arranged over nearly 150 years by 39 women and men using their unique perspectives and extraordinary skill. While not a linear or fixed narrative, this dynamic and complex composition presents layered conversations about race, gender, endurance, triumph, and universal spirituality in a way that educates, reprimands, challenges, celebrates, and loves America.

The show features dynamic works by Romare Bearden, Dawoud Bey, Frank Bowling, Elizabeth Catlett, Robert Duncanson, Jacob Lawrence, Edmonia Lewis, Richard Mayhew, Lorna Simpson, Renee Stout, Henry O. Tanner, Mickalene Thomas, Philemona Williamson, along with new acquisitions by Frank Bowling, Julie Mehretu, and Kerry James Marshall.

We invite you to explore each work of art to uncover the true nature of the human spirit to survive and thrive in spite of personal and sociopolitical obstacles. We encourage you to recognize and honor the spirit of resilience in yourself and others.


This exhibition is supported in part by the estate of Martha Parfet, the estate of Muriel and David Gregg, and by Judith and Sherman Van Solkema

2019 raaaaac jacob lawrence legend of john brown 18 200815178 290 fs

Jacob Lawrence, Legend of John Brown #18: July 3, 1859. John Brown stocked an old barn with guns and ammunition. He was ready to strike his first blow at slavery., 1977, color screenprint. Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Gift of an anonymous donor. 2008.15.18



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