Exploring Black representation in art and systemic racism

Powerful works by photographer Kris Graves on display at Wright State’s Stein Galleries

Photographer Kris Graves’ relevant, thought-provoking imagery highlighting Black representation in art and systemic racism is currently on display in the Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries at Wright State University, 160 Creative Arts Center.



Continuing through Dec. 3, the exhibition, titled “Truth and Ruin,” finds Graves incorporating landscape and portrait photography to inspire dialogue that cuts through division in order to encourage audiences to ponder important themes. In particular, organizers view the portraits as emphasizing “the individuality of the subjects in addition to their Blackness while also inspiring the viewer to reflect on racism in America.”

“More often than not Black people are portrayed in the extreme – either as very rich or very poor,” Graves said, in a release. “They are demonized, infantilized, ridiculed, idolized or hyper-sexualized. And within the art canon, there is a noticeable scarcity of Black representation.”

The exhibition includes work from several series, including “The Testament Project,” a look at the contemporary Black experience in America.



The New York and London-based Graves has been published and exhibited globally, including the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Aperture Gallery in New York. His work is also included in permanent collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Schomburg Center, Whitney Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Brooklyn Museum and The Wedge Collection in Toronto.

In addition, he serves as an adjunct professor at The New School/Parsons School of Design in New York and vice president of photography of The Architectural League of New York. He received his B.F.A. in visual arts from S.U.N.Y. Purchase College.

Graves will give an artist talk on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. in the galleries, with a reception afterward.

In related news, the Stein Galleries, in collaboration with the Bolinga Black Cultural Resources Center, will host a closing reception talk on “Black Political Thought and Antiracism: The Civic Radical Tradition” by Alex Zamalin on Thursday, Dec. 2. at 11:30 a.m. Zamalin, the author of several books, is an associate professor of political science and the director of the African American Studies Program at the University of Detroit Mercy.

“Truth and Ruin” is curated by Benjamin Montague, associate professor of photography.

The Stein Galleries are open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All gallery events are free and open to the public. Everyone is required to wear a mask when inside all buildings on Wright State’s campuses, regardless of vaccination status.

For more information, call the Stein Galleries at 937-775-2978 or visit wright.edu/artgalleries. Wright State University is located at 3640 Col. Glenn Hwy., Dayton.



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