Kennedy Museum of Art opens four new spring exhibitions with focus on diverse artists

Published: January 24, 2023 Author: Emma Skidmore, BSJ ‘23

The Kennedy Museum of Art (KMA), Ohio University’s own academic museum housed in the College of Fine Arts and located at The Ridges, opened four new exhibitions on Monday, Jan. 17.

Museum Registrar Lisa Quinn said some of the artworks in these exhibitions are chosen by graduate student assistants and the Program to Aid Career Exploration, or PACE, interns, in collaboration with the Curator of Education and Registrar. The museum provides experiential learning and educational, as well as research and public service opportunities to students and members of community in the region. 

The exhibitions, entitled “CONVERSATIONS...,” “Centering Black Artists,” “Gesture of the Still Image,” and “In Tribute” cover a variety of mediums and are open through OHIO’s spring semester. Gallery hours can be viewed online here.

“CONVERSATIONS...” addresses how humans create meaning from visual connections between objects that later deepen and expand conceptually through conversations with others.

According to Quinn, new work was acquired by the museum to address diversity and inclusion within the collections.

“Centering Black Artists” highlights Black artists and their contributions and features a variety of contemporary and historically significant art.

“’Centering Black Artists’ acknowledges the under representation of Black artists in KMA’s collections and provides the opportunity to engage Black community members in determining action steps to increase inclusion in programming and future exhibitions at the museum,” Quinn said.

Odessa Robinson, a senior studying communication, worked with KMA to help develop the exhibit.

“I am hoping that visitors realize that Black art is not separate from the arts in general,” Robinson said. “We are here. We are a part of the art movement and always have been. We are valid in all realms and deserve to take up space within that. We exist. Our art deserves a platform to allow us to share our creativity, and talent and share our stories.”

Robinson spoke to the importance of diversity in the art community as a way to elevate influential marginalized voices that often go unrecognized.

“The historical damage of erasure to diverse voices in art has made exposure for Black artists a huge task and burden on the artists’ themselves,” Robinson said. “With spaces to uplift and give exposure to Black artists on large platforms such as an art exhibit, it releases some of that pressure from artists as individuals.”

“In Tribute” also works to honor notable artists featuring a selection of three artists who passed away in 2022. These artists include Jennifer Bartlett (b. 1941), Sam Gilliam (b. 1933) and Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929), each of whom achieved unique and prestigious success.

Photography and Integrated Media MFA candidate Ashley Kouri worked with Quinn to choose pieces for “Gesture of the Still Image,” a selection of photographs that communicate human emotion and movement, framed by an artists' lens.

Kouri explained she first began combing through the database of photos and decided on a theme and title after she chose her favorites. She also framed them and gave directions for the hanging process.

“Basically, I had the opportunity to put together all of the details of the show and that has been such an amazing experience,” Kouri said. “I have put a lot of thought and time into this project and it's so exciting to actually see it come to fruition. I am pretty proud of it!”

Kouri hopes that her audience will be able to connect with each work and feel the emotion conveyed through the photographs. To emphasize diverse voices, Kouri said she worked with the museum to purchase two new pieces.

“There is a long history of institutional art spaces and their lack of inclusivity,” Kouri added. “The mastery of art was historically kept for white males. With this in mind, I made sure to go through the KMA collection and attempt to find diverse photographers and artists who work with imagery.”

Full descriptions of each exhibition can be found here.

The Kennedy Museum of Art is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 1 to 5 p.m. on weekends. Admission is free to all students and community members.