Opening Reception: Sunday, April 17, 2 pm – 4 pm
This exhibition examines some of the ways artists have represented personal, cultural, and racial identity, within the context of western art history. The twenty-four figurative works—primarily by artists of the African Diaspora—were made over the last fifty years by influential 20th century artists as well as internationally recognized contemporary artists.
The artists challenge stereotypes, revise histories, retell stories, and draw attention to people who have been ignored by or erased from history. Some of them confront the art historical canon head-on, question the dominant narratives and suggest alternate views. They rework established themes and genres—mother and child, saint, biblical and historical scenes, family and self-portraits—positioning people of color in the foreground. A few artists appropriate specific paintings and restage them with new characters, energizing old images in unexpected ways. Additionally, several of the artists borrow fashions, objects and ideas from popular culture to address issues of race, class and gender. By recharging all of these images, the artists in this show spark deeper conversations on race, art, and representation, and invite us to consider a more inclusive and authentic group portrait of ourselves.
Recharging the Image: Selections from the Mott-Warsh Collection was organized by Mary Birmingham, Curator at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. All of the works are on loan from the Mott-Warsh Collection, a Flint, Michigan-based private collection assembled by Maryanne Mott and her late husband, Herman Warsh. The couple initiated the collection in 2001 to provide fine art to a broader audience in the City of Flint and beyond. Through its lending program, the collection educates viewers in art appreciation, art making processes, art history, 20th century American history, and the history of the African Diaspora. We are grateful to Maryanne Mott for sharing these works with the people of New Jersey and we extend special thanks to Stephanie James, Curator and Collection Educator for her invaluable assistance in organizing this show.
This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of Marité and Joseph R. Robinson.