Photo by Etienne Frossard
When we consider the history of portraiture and figurative painting, who do we find most often represented on the walls of museums? Whose stories are told and to whom are they directed? Who steers the narratives of art and history? Far too often, the answer to these questions has been “white men.” But when we answer the same questions with “people of color,” “queer people,” “women,” or “people from immigrant, diasporic, or colonized communities,” we expand the possibility of hearing a different story, repopulated with figures more reflective of who we are collectively.
Claiming the Narrative asserts the importance of asking these questions and highlights artists who suggest alternative answers. Centering subjects who have been marginalized, ignored, exoticized, or even erased from the narrative of Western art history, the eleven artists in this exhibition challenge assumptions about traditional portraiture, identity, history, and the power of the gaze. While some draw from Renaissance and other art historical traditions and others respond to popular culture, they all create new ways for us to see ourselves. Together, they provide a more authentic representation of contemporary life by broadening and diversifying the possibilities of figurative art.
Artists include: Tyler Ballon, Santiago Galeas, Alex Gardner, Todd Gray, Layqa Nuna Yawar, Shona McAndrew, Arcmanoro Niles, Ron Norsworthy, Ransome, Mickalene Thomas, and Philemona Williamson.