Mary Sibande & Willie Cole in Past Is Present : Herron Galleries, Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana

28 September 2022 - 14 January 2023


"The past is never dead. It's not even past."


–William Faulkner

Past Is Present: Black Artists Respond to the Complicated Histories of Slavery raises important questions about slavery's past and present, reflecting on how this complicated history is not to be repeated in the future.


Local histories are used as a starting point for confronting slavery and its legacy. The exhibit features artworks created by African American artists in Indianapolis and beyond, like Mary Sibande, Lorna Simpson, Martin Puryear, Roberto Lugo, Sonya Clark, and Kara Walker, among others.


Historical artifacts from the Indiana Historical Society, the Indiana State Museum, the Indiana Archives and Records Administration, the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, are also on display.


Along with the historical objects, the featured works envision a better future by drawing creatively from histories of enslavement and its legacy.



Mason Archie, Kaila Austin, Torry Brown, Willie Cole, Matthew Cooper, Sonya Clark, Walter Lobyn Hamilton, John Wesley Hardrick, Alicia Henry, Samuel Levi Jones, Roberto Lugo, Marcus Morris, Nell Painter, Rae Parker, Carl Pope, Martin Puryear, Rebecca Robinson, Mary Sibande, Lorna Simpson, LaShawnda Crowe Storm, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, John Wilson, and Shamira Wilson.