David C. Driskell Center

Black Identities in American Art from the
Yale University Art Gallery

Thursday, September 16 - Friday, October 29, 2010




Embodied: Black Identities in American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery features more than 50 works that engage with the issue of race and call into question the meanings that have been mapped onto African American bodies throughout history. Embodied will be on view from September 16 through October 29, 2010, at the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland. The public opening reception will take place on September 16, 2010 from 5:00–7:00 PM at the Driskell Center’s gallery, located at 1207 Cole Student Activities Building, at the College Park campus. The exhibition will be on display at the Yale University Art Gallery from February 18 through June 26, 2011.

The artworks chosen by the student curators prompt the viewer to question the categories of “African American” and “Black.” By asking whether “Black art” is recognizable or even exists in any coherent sense, this exhibition encourages the audience to reexamine some basic assumptions about race. The artworks are grouped into three sections, each with a specific focus: the performative dimension of racial identity; the ways the absence of a body can reveal assumptions about physical and ethnic identity; and national identity—how geographical origin and displacement affects identity. Each of the three sections highlights one work—respectively, Kerry James Marshall’s Untitled, Lorna Simpson’s Wigs, and Barkley L. Hendricks’s APBs/Afro Parisian Brothers.—that serves as a point of departure for understanding the concept in question.

Embodied features works from the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery in a rich variety of media, including paintings and sculpture; decorative arts; and prints, drawings, and photographs. The number of artworks by African American artists within the permanent collection of the Yale University Art Gallery has increased multifold over the past decade. The exhibition both celebrates this rapidly growing area of the collection and highlights the contribution of African American artists to the canon of American art.



David C. Driskell
Dancing Angel, 2002. Screenprint
Yale University Art Gallery,
Gift of Jean and Robert E. Steele, M.P.H. 1971, M.S. 1974, Ph.D. 1975.
© Courtesy of the artist
Willie Cole
Man, Spirit, Mask (detail) 1999.
Triptych; screenprint, photo-etching, lemon juice, and scorching
Yale University Art Gallery,
A. Conger Goodyear, B.A. 1899, Fund
Alison Saar
Bat Boyz, 2001.
Baseball bats and pitch
Yale University Art Gallery,
Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund



In conjunction with the exhibition, the David C. Driskell Center has organized a symposium, co-sponsored by the Driskell Center and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. Performing Race in African American Visual Culture will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, September 15–16, 2010. The keynote speaker is Professor Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University, Durham, NC; the event takes place on Sept. 15 at 6PM at the Phillips Collection. The symposium will continue the following day at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union at the University of Maryland College Park campus from 9 AM–5 PM. Registration is required; call 301.314.2615 or email driskellcenter@umd.edu. The symposium is supported by a grant from the Maryland Humanities Council, the office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and the Office of the Provost at the University of Maryland.


Kara Walker
Cotton; Li'l Patch of Woods; Disappearing Act; and Untitled (John Brown)(detail), 1996-97. Etchings, some with aquatints on chine collé
Yale University Art Gallery
A. Conger Goodyear, B.A. 1899, Fund
© Kara Walker
Kerry James Marshall
Untitled, 2009.Acrylic on PVC
Yale University Art Gallery,
Purchased with the Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund and a gift from Jacqueline L. Bradley, B.A. 1979.
© Courtesy of the artist and
Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Felrath Hines
Piano Forte, 1988.
Oil on Linen
Yale University Art Gallery,
Gift of the artist.
© Felrath Hines,
Courtesy of Dorothy C. Fisher


February 18 - June 26, 2011
Yale University Art Gallery 1111 Chapel Street New Haven, CT 06510