Imprinted: Illustrating Race is a current exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, 45 minutes from Albany, NY. I’ve written about visiting there a few times. In 2017, Rockwell and Warhol; in 2015, Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs; and in 2013, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The current show, running from June 11 through October 30, 2022, “examines the role of published images in shaping attitudes toward race and culture. Over 300 artworks and objects… will be on view, produced from the late eighteenth century to today, which has an impact on public perception about race in the United States.
“The exhibition will explore stereotypical racial representations that have been imprinted upon us through the mass publication of images.” Many of these involve formerly enslaved people, but also Chinese would-be immigrants. These are generally from the 18th to the early 20th century.
But some creators took on the bigotry in that period. “William J. Wilson published the ‘Afric-American Picture Gallery’ under the name of Ethiop in the Anglo-African Magazine.” He wrote: “we must begin to tell our own story, write our own lecture, paint our own picture, chisel our own bust.”
Later, “The Harlem Renaissance… inspired pride in Black life and identity following World War I through the Great Depression. Artists associated with the movement conveyed a rising consciousness of inequality and discrimination and an interest in the rapidly changing modern world, many experiencing a freedom of expression through the arts for the first time.”
“Illustration, Race, and Responsibility: 1950s to Now will explore activism through art from the Civil Rights movements of the mid-20th century to the racial unrest of present-day…
“Concurrent to the Imprinted exhibition, In Our Lifetime: Paintings from the Pandemic by Kadir Nelson will be on view… Featuring recent works which have never been exhibited publicly. These are large pieces all created between 2020 and 2022.” You may recognize one work, his George Floyd piece, that was featured as a New Yorker cover.
My wife and I also went on a tour of Norman Rockwell’s studio, a short walk away. The docent was very informative. One thing I had never noticed was that on Rockwell’s cover featuring Ruby Bridges walking with the marshalls, they are all walking in step, signifying their unified purpose.
If you are anywhere near Stockbridge, MA, I recommend a trip to the Norman Rockwell Museum, especially in the next month.
Oh, on the same trip, we also saw a Rodin exhibit at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. Unfortunately, that show has concluded, but there are other fine things to see there.