Curated by Michael D. Harris, PhD
Visible Man: Art and Black Male Subjectivity offers a creative look at the complexity of African-American males through cultural, racialized, and personal lenses.
For two centuries, African-American masculinity has been demonized or challenged visually in art and popular culture. Physical differences were turned into symbols of deviation or inferiority or a lack of civility, and the social position of African-American males was distorted into icons of inferiority. Images, both artistic and from popular culture, went a long way toward defining Black masculinity and creating tropes and symbols about character, identity, and social location in the Americas.
Visible Man emphasizes the creative expression surrounding the representation of Black males, elevating the voice of the subject, the diversity of perspectives and nuances of their representation ⎯ whether by self-representation or representation through observation ⎯ and the complexities of men in the African diaspora.
Rather than exploring the Black male body, this exhibition focuses on the multiple possibilities as seen and experienced from within the African diaspora and will privilege the voice of the subject as well as the voices of women artists who share the cultural and racialized experience of being Black. The artists are male and female, young and old, American and Caribbean, from the Midwest and the coasts, well-known and less so. It is an attempt to avoid notions of the ‘Black body’ and a discourse which emphasizes racial categorization in favor of a more nuanced and diverse cultural view.
Visible Man was organized by Bowling Green State University Fine Arts Center Galleries with support from the BGSU College of Arts & Sciences, the Ohio Arts Council and Ohio Humanities. It is dedicated to the memory of Dr. David Driskell and BGSU alumnus Edward Sewell.
Ernest Shaw, Squeegee (Crossing Gods 2), 2021. Mixed media, 72 x 48 x 3 inches.