Representations of Race in the Collection: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Ideas about race and racial identity permeate American culture and history, so it’s no surprise that they’ve also been addressed by artists over the course of time. This week, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, we look back at student writing about works in our collection that address African American experience and identity.

In 2012, student Elizabeth Hahn wrote about Alfred Hutty’s drypoint etching, Deep South. Hutty moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and became intrigued by black experience in the South.

In 2013, student Kristen Brown wrote about Emma Amos’s digital print/lithograph, Identity. Amos, an artist of diverse ancestry, questions the category of race in terms of both its application to herself and its usefulness to society as a whole.

Last year, prompted by an exhibition at the OSU Museum of Art, student Lindsey Chancellor wrote about the representations of African American history in Oklahoma that were commissioned for the State Legislature buildings.

There are connections between all of these essays, but they also point up the striking diversity of American experience in the past century. As our collection grows, I hope that these conversations also continue.

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