|"Who Are We? Artists Explore Identity," an ongoing exhibition in the Grafly and Beren galleries at the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University.|
Race, gender, and sexuality: These three topics galvanized much of the work at the forefront of contemporary art in the 1980s and 1990s. Building on the advances of the 1960s civil rights movement and 1970s feminist movement, many artists at the close of the 20th century sought to escape from, and reimagine, a long tradition of representation that focused exclusively on white, male, heterosexual perspectives. They participated in what cultural commentators called the politics of identity their art focused on dismantling stereotypes, acknowledging multiculturalism, and celebrating diversity.
No singular style or message characterized this work regarding identity. Rather, using a range of media and approaches, artists examined the multitude of ways in which identity is frequently constructed by the dominant assumptions of the society in which one lives. They argued that identity is flexible rather than fixed, and our thinking should be as well--the ability to see people and situations from different vantage points is essential if one wants to live in a just and equitable world.
Although the terms of our cultural debates have changed, the key issues remain essentially the same. As an example, a reader can compare art historian Linda Nochlin's seminal 1971 article in Art News, "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?," with Princeton University law professor Anne-Marie Slaughter's essay "Why Women Still Can t Have It All" in a the July/August issue of The Atlantic. The strong resonances between these these writings--published some 40 years apart--confirms the politics of identity are as fraught and pressing today as in decades past.
This installation presents artworks from the Ulrich collection that have contributed to these important discussions in the past and continue the conversations now. They feature realism and abstraction, humor and gravitas, images and text. Importantly, they pose as many questions as answers, thus promoting critical thinking as they encourage compassionate dialogue.
Ulrich exhibitions are generously supported by the Ulrich Salon Circle and Museum Alliance.
Gallery hours are 11 a.m-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Mondays and major/university holidays. Free admission. For more information about the exhibition or the artists, call the Ulrich Museum at (316) 978-3664 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.