February 19 – June 19, 2022

Byron Kim, American, <em>Synecdoche…</em>, 1992 – 1998, wax and oil on panel
Byron Kim, American, 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 Byron Kim, Roberto Lugo, María Magdelena Campos-Pons, and Lorna Simpson.

Press Release

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. Additional support has been provided by the Fletcher Foundation, 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. The Museum also extends its thanks to our lenders: Alvin Hall, Noel E.D. Kirnon, The Lumpkin-Boccuzzi Family Collection, Millie Chen, Nafis M. White and Cade Tompkins Projects, and Howard Yezerski Gallery.

Sponsored by Cornerstone Bank and Imperial Distributors, Inc.

Media partners: Artscope and WBUR.

Related Programs

Us Them We | Race Ethnicity Identity: Artists’ Panel

Thursday, April 14, 4pm
Tuckerman Hall

Register here.

Us Them We | Race Ethnicity Identity co-curator Toby Sisson, Associate Professor and Program Director of Studio Art at Clark University, moderates a panel discussion on perspectives on identity with contemporary artists whose works are shown in the exhibition. Panel participants include artists Nafis M. White, Troy Montes-Michie, and Karlos Cárcamo. Following the program, ticket holders are invited to view the exhibition at WAM.

The Artist's Panel is hosted and sponsored by Clark University and the Worcester Art Museum. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Worcester Arts Council, a local agency, which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.


The Boston Globe
Asking the urgent questions in ‘Us Them We’ at Worcester Art Museum
By Cate McQuaid, February 23, 2022

Spectrum News
New exhibition at Worcester Art Museum highlights art and identity
By Meghan Parsons, February 18, 2022

Lowell Sun
Eye on Art: Identity and race on view in new WAM show
By Nancye Tuttle, February 17, 2022

Worcester Magazine
Contemporary artists explore identity in Worcester Art Museum's ‘Us Them We’
By Richard Duckett, February 16, 2022

Selected Images

María Magdalena Campos-Pons, When I am Not Here/ Estoy Allá, Identity Could Be a Tragedy, 1995-1996. Composition of 6 Polaroid Polacolor Pro 20x24 in photographs. Framed: approx. 26x22in each (66x55.9 cm). © María Magdalena Campos-Pons. Purchased through the Eliza S. Paine Fund. Image courtesy of the artist. 2003.4
Roberto Lugo, 2 Queens, 2018, porcelain, china paint and luster. © Roberto Lugo. 2019.100
Dread Scott, #WhileBlack, 2018, screenprint diptych. © Dread Scott. Museum purchase through the estate of Blake Robinson, 2021.81
Kara Walker, Scene of McPherson's Death. Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), 2005, Offset Lithography and Silkscreen. © Kara Walker. Sarah C. Garver Fund, 2007.5