June 24, 2018
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Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities

 September 10 – December 5, 2009


Newswise — Why might South African artist Nandipha Mntambo disguise herself as a bull in “Europa”? Why is American artist Lyle Ashton Harris dressed as the iconic jazz singer Billie Holiday in “Billie #1”? Explore these questions and view other provocative works in the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art’s presentation of Undercover: Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities. This original exhibition examines the complicated practice of Black women disguising themselves as well as the historic trend of others camouflaging themselves as Black women.

Featuring more than 50 works, the presentation’s concept is based on the idea that people manipulate their outward appearance for a variety of reasons. Highlighting paintings, photography, sculpture, video and works on paper, that were created from 1926 to today, most of the works have never been on view in Atlanta. Undercover is organized by the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and curated by Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., director of the Museum, and Karen Comer Lowe, director of Comer Art Advisory, LLC. Undercover will be on view from September 10 through December 5, 2009.

Undercover considers the reasons for being incognito and its multiple implications on race and gender. It examines seemingly disparate types of disguise including, self-portraiture, cross-dressing, and blackface performance. While it includes works by well-known artists including Lorraine O’Grady, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Doris Ulmann, and James VanDerZee, it also introduces promising emerging and midcareer artists such as Renée Cox, Lalla Essaydi, Ellen Gallagher, Myra Greene, Lyle Ashton Harris, Lauren Kelley, Kalup Linzy, Nandipha Mntambo, Magdalene Odundo, Berni Searle, and many others. Countless exhibitions have examined identity and race. In Undercover, however, exploring broader perspectives about Black women and disguise for the first time approaches this theme anew.

Major support for “Undercover: Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities” is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of the Fulton County Arts Council.

Mequitta Ahuja
Emma Amos
Sheila Pree Bright
Nick Cave
Renée Cox
Lalla Essaydi
Ellen Gallagher
Myra Greene
Lyle Ashton Harris
Lauren Kelley
Marcia Kure
Deana Lawson
Kalup Linzy
Beverly McIver
Nandipha Mntambo
Zanele Muholi
Wangechi Mutu
Magdalene Odundo
Lorraine O'Grady
Gordon Parks
Jessica Ann Peavy
Etiye Dimma Poulsen
Berni Searle
Cindy Sherman
Coreen Simpson
Lorna Simpson
Renée Stout
Mickalene Thomas
Sheila Turner
Iké Udé
Doris Ulmann
James VanDerZee
Pat Ward Williams

• Thursday, September 10, 2009, 6:30 p.m.: Opening Reception
• Thursday, October 22, 2009, 7 p.m.: Renée Cox Lecture (Hill Auditorium at the High Museum of Art. This program is organized in collaboration with Atlanta Celebrates Photography, the Spelman College Women’s Research and Resource Center, and the High Museum of Art)
• Tuesday, November 10, 2009, 6:30 p.m.: Gallery Walk with exhibition curators Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., and Karen Comer Lowe.

The unique mission of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is to emphasize works by and about women of the African Diaspora in its exhibitions and programs. It is regularly named as one of Atlanta’s most important arts institutions and has garnered significant attention for its innovative original group exhibitions. In December 2008 Cathy Fox, Art Critic for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, identified the Museum’s exhibition Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970 as one of the most important group exhibitions of the year.

In the last several years the Museum has organized other exhibitions that have attracted popular and critical support. Projects such as iona rozeal brown: a3 . . . black on both sides (2004), Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970, Parts I and II (2007 and 2008), and María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Dreaming of an Island (2008) consistently expand Atlanta’s contemporary art offerings. Undercover promises to honor the Museum’s unique mission and build upon the institution’s commitment to presenting first-rate, engaging exhibitions which appeal to residents of Atlanta, the region, and beyond.

The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is located in the Atlanta University Center on the Spelman College campus in the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center at 350 Spelman Lane.
Suggested donation $3/parking $3

The Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. The Museum is closed Sundays, Mondays, major holidays and official College breaks. For more information on the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, visit www.spelman.edu/museum

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