WASHINGTON, DC—Fittingly, Kerry James Marshall’s new exhibit at the National Gallery of Art opened a week before the Fourth of July. While “In the Tower: Kerry James Marshall” doesn’t celebrate America’s independence, it does explore a defining aspect of its history—slavery and the unresolved trauma and allusive experiences African Americans endure as a result of it. The exhibit features more than 30 works—paintings and drawings including “Bam,” which is about July 4th; “Visible Means of Support,” studies for works depicting Monticello and Mount Vernon; and “Great America” which the museum acquired in 2011.
According to the museum, “The dominant theme of these works is the transport of African slaves to America in the Middle Passage—the second or “middle” leg of the triangular trade of manufactured goods, slaves, and crops that transpired between Europe, Africa, and the American colonies from the colonial period until the middle of the 19th century. Marshall’s works explore the economic, sociological, and psychological aftermath of this foundational episode of US history. In his art, the past is never truly past: history exerts a constant, often unconscious pressure on the living.”
“In the Tower: Kerry James Marshall” will be on view from June 28 to Dec. 7, 2013.
IMAGE: Detail of “Great America,” 1994 (acrylic and collage on canvas) by Kerry James Marshall | Photo by Arts Observer