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Program in Intergroup Relations — Race and Social Justice Institute

Jacob Lawrence, Ten Builders, soft ground etching and aquatint on paper, 19 11/16 in x 24 ⅞ in (50.01 cm x 63.18 cm);22 1/16 in x 28 ⅛ in (56.04 cm x 71.44 cm);10 4/5 in x 16 4/5 in (27.46 cm x 42.7 cm), Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

L.S.A. & School of Education

Faculty Curators: Stephanie Hicks (Program on Intergroup Relations, Institute for Research on Women and Gender), Maisie Gholson (School of Education)

On view: Winter 2022

This collaboration started with the idea of assembling artworks that would provide material for discussions about identity, power, and social justice, but we immediately faced limitations from UMMA’s collection in terms of who is represented, how they are represented, and who is doing the representing. Representations of Whiteness in the collection are plentiful and complex; representations of people of color, in contrast, are much fewer and more limited to documentary, photographic images.

We chose to work with this limitation by centering some of those images of “realness” represented by photography and framing them with more abstract and conceptual works that might suggest norms of identity, ranging from conventions to stereotypes, that regulate and police processes of inclusion and exclusion.

As your eyes move from image to image, what narratives do they craft? How do they work together and individually to conjure meanings about dominant narratives and counter narratives of race in America? Think also about the limitations posed by an art museum collection, built on processes of exclusion and privilege over many decades. Think about what you don’t see as well as what you do see.

Works Included In This Collection

Jacob Lawrence
screenprint on paper
Jacob Lawrence
screenprint on paper
Baldwin Lee
gelatin silver print on paper
circa 1960-1975
Eddie Arning
oil pastel on paper
Ken Heyman
gelatin silver print on paper
1990, printed in 2016
Melanie Walker
archival pigment print on paper


Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Erica Gervais Pappendick and Ted Pappendick, the Eleanor Noyes Crumpacker Endowment Fund, and the Oakriver Foundation.