It’s a big exhibition straight from the Big Apple.
“Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And,” on loan from the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, is the first comprehensive overview of the work of Lorraine O’Grady, one of the most significant figures in contemporary performance, conceptual, and feminist art.
O’Grady is widely known for her radical persona Mlle Bourgeoise Noire. The artist’s complex practice encompasses video, photomontage, concrete poetry, cultural criticism, and public art. She has consistently been ahead of her time, anticipating contemporary art world conversations about racism, sexism, institutional inequities, and cultural oversights by decades. Her prescience has inspired younger generations of artists.
Throughout her work, she has called attention to the deeply segregated nature of the art world while also continually imagining her own history, body, and relationships, within a cultural landscape that often makes it difficult for Black women to speak for themselves.
Parallel threads of outward critique and inward reflection are some of the many binaries that O’Grady’s work addresses. By putting seemingly contradictory ideas together, she questions the power attached to such oppositions as Black and White, museum and individual, self and other, West and non-West, and past and present. The exhibition’s subtitle, “Both/And,” emphasizes the artist’s ambitious goal of dismantling either/or thinking in favor of broader possibilities.
Leadership support for this exhibition is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation. Its presentation at the Weatherspoon Art Museum is supported by Bank of America, Beatrice Schall, Sydney Gingrow, Carol Cole Levin, Tim Warmath, and Edward Comber.
By Loring Mortenson
Photography by Martin W. Kane