David C. Driskell Center


Shifting: African American Women Artists and the Power of Their Gaze

Thursday, March 2nd - Friday, May 26th, 2017



The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park is proud to announce its spring exhibition, Shifting: African American Women Artists and the Power of Their Gaze. The exhibition, organized by the Driskell Center, is curated by the David C. Driskell Center’s Executive Director, Professor Curlee R. Holton, assisted by Deputy Director, Dorit Yaron. The exhibition will be on display at the Driskell Center from Thursday, March 2, 2017 through Friday, May 26, 2017, with an opening reception on Thursday, March 2nd, from 5-7PM. For a full list of the 39 artists in the exhibition, please see the Press Release or the Exhibition Checklist.

For years, a woman’s place in most societies has been defined first and foremost by her gender. As noted by the French scholar Simone de Beauvoir, women are defined as “the other” while men are defined as “the one”; to belong to “the others” or “the one” is evident through sight. According to the British feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey, who wrote extensively on the subject of the “Male Gaze”, women are always the objects of the gaze, never the possessors of the gaze.

Shifting explores how African American female artists turn their gaze on themselves and on other women. Not attempting to provide one answer, this exhibition serves as a platform for creating a dialogue around the questions: Whose gaze is it? Is the male gaze also the female gaze? Are women looking at themselves through the male gaze?

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Driskell Center will present a panel discussion to be held at 3pm on Friday, March 3rd, 2017. The purpose of this panel is to recognize and critically examine the contribution of African American women artists to the American art canon and understand how they have both impacted and responded to the contemporary art world. The panel will be lead and moderated by Lisa Farrington, Art Professor and Chair of the Department of Art and Music at John Jay College, NYC. The additional participants are: Kirsten Pai Buick, Ph.D., Associate Professor, College of Fine Arts, Department of Art and Art History, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Elsa Barkley Brown, Associate Professor of History and Women’s Studies and Affiliate Faculty in African American Studies and American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park; M. Nzasi Keita, Associate Professor of English, Ursinus College; Kelli Morgan, The Winston & Carolyn Lowe Curatorial Fellow for Diversity in the Fine Arts at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; and Dr. Deborah Willis, University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, NYC. The papers presented at the panel will be included in a publication to be released after the exhibition opens.

RSVP for the panel is required by February 28th, 2017 at driskellcenter@umd.edu or 301.314.2615.

The Driskell Center Gallery’s hours are Monday through Friday from 11AM to 4PM with extended hours on Wednesdays until 6PM. The Driskell Center Gallery will also be open on Saturday, Mar. 11th, Apr. 8th, Apr. 29th, and May 13th from 11AM to 4PM. The Driskell Center observes all University of Maryland closings due to inclement weather and holidays. The Driskell Center Gallery will be closed for the University of Maryland's Spring Break, March 19 - 26, 2017.