The Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) major exhibition, Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas. which offers a bold perspectives on Black culture and representation, closes Sunday, May 13. Organized by SAM, the exhibition brings together these three leading American artists from three different generations for the first time. The 25 monumental paintings on view challenge a Western painting tradition that historically erases or misrepresents people of color, offering narratives centered on Black experiences and perspectives.
Kerry James Marshall and Mickalene Thomas both created new paintings specifically for the exhibition. Thomas also presents a popular “living room” installation that visitors can interact with, filled with seating, plants, and books by Black authors. The exhibition also includes a library of books related to its themes; the full list of titles is available on SAM’s website.
“Figuring History poses crucial questions about artistic, social, and political narratives,” says Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art. “Who represents—and who is represented in—history? And how do we reassess and go forth with these histories that we have all inherited? It’s been a privilege to be a part of the engaged conversations that these extraordinary paintings have sparked.”