Friday, June 5, 2009

Now Showing: Kerry James Marshall


Have you ever read a book covering the history of a particular time or place, and begun to contemplate parts of the story that were left out? What was omitted to make a certain figure appear heroic, or to make a certain era seem romantic? African American artist Kerry James Marshall's mural at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is the visual equivalent of reading between the lines.
Most people know that George Washington, America's much revered first president, owned slaves. This is a fact that is acknowledged, but often quickly glossed over in history books and documentaries. Marshall, in collaboration with San Francisco's own Precita Eyes muralists, has created his own documentation of this reality, writ larger than life, making it virtually impossible to look away. The two murals, conceived by Kerry James Marshall and painted by Precita Eyes, place Black people in every part of the seemingly happy and colorful landscape. They are in the trees, the ocean, the land, and Black faces create connect-the-dots puzzles throughout the two murals, positioned high overhead in the main lobby of the MoMA.
The murals depict the sprawling estates of our country's "founding fathers," and George Washington and Thomas Jefferson each tower over their plantation homes. Thomas Jefferson is positioned in such a way that when one walks directly under the mural, his eyes appear to shift and he looks to the right. Both murals are a Where's Waldo of stories, maps, and clues.
If you're in the Bay Area, this captivating mural is a must-see. For more information, log onto the SF MoMA's website: http://www.sfmoma.org/exhibitions/388

And for more information on the amazing Precita Eyes muralists:
http://www.precitaeyes.org/

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