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Us Them We
Race Ethnicity Identity

February 19 – June 19, 2022

Byron Kim,  American, b. 1961, 'Synecdoche: Danielle Brunner, Dominic Shamyer, Ella Kim, George Gountas, Glenn Ligon, Jay Patrikios, Johannes Gachnang, Joanna Bossart, Joseph Benjamin, Konrad Tobler, Kyle Wilton, Louis Barney, Lourdes Mercado, Luciano Berti, Marc Pia, Marvin Siegel, Miguel Maldonado, Niki Hosig, Remy Pia, Roland Fellmann, Rosa Duran, Ruth Libermann, Sean Casey, Susann Bossart, Vijay Kapoor, 1992-1998', wax and oil on panel
Byron Kim, American, b. 1961, Synecdoche: Danielle Brunner, Dominic Shamyer, Ella Kim, George Gountas, Glenn Ligon, Jay Patrikios, Johannes Gachnang, Joanna Bossart, Joseph Benjamin, Konrad Tobler, Kyle Wilton, Louis Barney, Lourdes Mercado, Luciano Berti, Marc Pia, Marvin Siegel, Miguel Maldonado, Niki Hosig, Remy Pia, Roland Fellmann, Rosa Duran, Ruth Libermann, Sean Casey, Susann Bossart, Vijay Kapoor, 1992-1998, wax and oil on panel, Collection of Noel Kirnon. © Byron Kim 2021. Image courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York.

Addressing identity as a socio-political issue has been a central theme for artists since the 1970s. Us Them We | Race Ethnicity Identity will consider the ways that contemporary artists accentuate concepts like race and ethnicity through various visual strategies. Four formal devices serve as the foundation for the exhibition: Text, Juxtaposition, Seriality, and Pattern. Artists often employ one or more of these approaches as means of storytelling, protest, and celebration. This exhibition demonstrates how these organizing principles serve as a common tool through which personal and communal social status are explored.

Co-curated by Nancy Kathryn Burns, Stoddard associate curator of prints, drawings and photographs at WAM, and Toby Sisson, associate professor and program director of studio art at Clark University, Us Them We | Race Ethnicity Identity will feature over 50 objects across a broad spectrum of media including: photography, prints, painting, and sculpture. Presented across two galleries, the exhibition features significant loans and some rarely-seen objects from the Worcester Art Museum’s permanent collection. Highlights include works by Edgar Heap of Birds, Byron Kim, Roberto Lugo, Shirin Neshat, and Lorna Simpson.

Screenshot of Contemporary Directions class students during a Zoom event

In spring 2021, thirteen Clark University students enrolled in the advanced studio course, “Contemporary Directions,” which explored the topic of identity and was co-taught by Sisson and Burns. Despite the constraints of the coronavirus pandemic, students met with artists over zoom and created artworks in response to objects featured in the exhibition. These student works will also be on display in an ancillary gallery in the Museum.

This exhibition is organized by the Worcester Art Museum in partnership with, and with support from, Clark University. Early support has been provided by Marlene and David Persky, Michael and Kristy Beauvais, Eve Griliches, Sara Shields and Bruce Fishbein, and Kristin B. Waters. This project is also funded in part by the John M. Nelson Fund and Hall and Kate Peterson Fund. Related programming is supported by the Amelia and Robert H. Haley Memorial Lecture Fund and Spear Fund for Public Programs.