Editor's note: The Tarble Arts Center provided source material to Resource Library Magazine for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Tarble Arts Center directly through either this phone number or web address:


After Whiteness: Race in the Visual Arts

January 14 -March 13, 2005


The exhibition After Whiteness: Race in the Visual Arts is on view through March 13, 2005 in the Gallery of the Tarble Arts Center, Eastern Illinois University. A symposium of the same title and subject will be held at the Tarble on February 10 and 11.

The symposium will include "Whiteness in Blackness: Quantifying Portraits," a keynote address by Dr. Amy Mooney on Thursday, February 10, 7pm. And on Friday, February 11, 2pm, a panel discussion will be presented by art historian Dr. Kymberly Pinder, artist/curator Suk Ja Kang Engles, and artist Laurie Hogin, moderated by Dr. Timothy Engles of the EIU English Department. A reception will immediately follow the discussion to celebrate the symposium and exhibition.

The exhibition and symposium explore how the notion of a white race influences the U.S. art world. Making up the exhibition is a mixed media installation by Katherine Bartel (Waynesboro, NC), drawings by Kojo Griffin (Atlanta, GA), paintings by Laurie Hogin (Mahomet, IL), audio and projection pieces by Suk Ja Kang Engles (Champaign, IL), and an installation and a drawing by Christina Marsh (Urbana, IL). Kang Engles curated the exhibition, a version of which was exhibited at I Space in Chicago in 2004.

When focusing on matters of race most art exhibitions tend to show art produced by specific groups of "people of color" -- African Americans, Native American Indians, etc. After Whiteness examines the issue by juxtaposing race-conscious work by artists who are both "of color" and "white." Since whiteness has long functioned as the assumed norm, much about its dominance in American culture has been taken for granted. In recent years, scholars and critics have launched investigations into the powers and privileges of Americans classified as white and the ramifications of whiteness for those grouped in non-white categories, including how the notion of a white race influences visual art and art critics, curators, and collectors.

According to symposium organizer Engles, After Whiteness conveys a double meaning. The exhibition artists and symposium speakers are "after whiteness" -- trying to capture some of its elusive formations and effects. And, as changing immigration and demographic patterns continue to decrease the numerical majority of whites in the United States, challenging the political and cultural centrality of whiteness as the norm, whiteness is no longer what it was. Says Engles, "In this sense, we live in an era 'after whiteness.'"

Amy M. Mooney is a professor of Art History at Columbia College in Chicago. Her publications include the book Archibald J. Motley, Jr., volume IV in The David C. Driskell Series in African American Art (Pomegranate 2004). She is a recipient of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and The Terra Foundation for the Arts. Dr. Mooney holds a doctorate from Rutgers University in Modern Art History with a specialization in African American art.

Kang Engles initially began to ponder issues of race and identity as a teenager growing up in a small town near a U.S. Army base in Korea. She moved to the United States to establish a career as a studio artist and holds an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign. Her public lectures include "Diss/Orienting: What Is "Asian American about Asian American Art?" and "Why I Can't Be (Just) 'An Artist,'"

Hogin is a professor in the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and has an M.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She bases her work on Old Master paintings, but satirizes her subjects rather than venerates them. Her work has been described as being "Frequently humorous images of brand-loyal monkeys, snarling bunnies and fabulously feathered bird creaturesencoded with political and cultural messages meant to critique our trust in the contemporary global economy." She has shown in New York, L.A. and Chicago.

Katherine Bartel is an Associate Professor of Art at Eastern Illinois University. Her art was in the ExhibitsUSA touring exhibition Objects of Personal Significance. Writes John P. Bowles, Bartel's art serves to "reveal and denaturalize the ways in which 'women's work' can enact and sustain the desire to inhabit both conventional gender roles and whiteness."

Kojo Griffin's work has been described as "art that engages people in a personal (internal) dialogue" and often includes anthropomorphized animals taking part in universal dramas in nameless settings. Griffin has shown at the 2000 Whitney Biennial and the 2003 Corcoran Gallery of Art Biennial. His art is represented in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Brooklyn Museum, and has appeared in Art in America and The New York Times. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Morehouse College.

Christina Marsh is currently completing an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana. States Marsh, "Currently, I am influenced by the anthropological use of labels to classify. I construct a false sense of reality by pulling from my knowledge of western culture as consumer and African-American woman." Her work has been exhibited at the Center of Contemporary Art (St. Louis) and Brooks Museum (Memphis).

Pinder is on the faculty of the Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Art History and an M.Phil., from Yale University. Engles is an Associate Professor of English at Eastern Illinois University. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.

After Whiteness is co-sponsored with the EIU departments of Art and English, and African American Studies. A symposium of the same title was held at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign in 2004.

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Tarble Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University in Resource Library.

Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art, calendars, and much more.

© Copyright 2005 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.