Last week, as you may know, First Lady Michelle Obama was in Chicago following her appearance at the Democratic National Convention. While in town, the First Lady visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago to tour the popular exhibition of work by acclaimed artist Kerry James Marshall.
Mrs. Obama was accompanied on a tour of the exhibit by MCA Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn, along with the artist Kerry James Marshall and his wife Cheryl Lynn Bruce. Ms. Grynsztejn said, "We were honored to have Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States, come to the MCA to see the work of Kerry James Marshall. She is an important advocate for arts and education and we greatly appreciated her visit to the MCA on the occasion of this momentous and meaningful exhibition.
"Kerry James Marshall is making a lasting contribution to history with works that are aesthetically powerful, but also relevant to issues facing our society today - from racial injustice to the search for equality. At the same time, his paintings are beautiful, humanistic, and necessary. Mrs. Obama's visit underscores the importance of this great artist, who is at once a hero of our city and also a pillar of the community."
Kerry James Marshall: Mastry is the first retrospective exhibition of Marshall’s work, considered one of America's greatest living painters. Over the past three decades, Marshall has been an inspired and imaginative chronicler of the African American experience. Best known for large-scale interiors, landscapes, and portraits featuring powerful black figures, Marshall explores narratives of African-American history from slave ships to contemporary culture, and draws on his deep knowledge of art history from the Renaissance to 20th-century abstraction, as well as other sources such as the comic book and the muralist tradition.
His powerful paintings confront the position of African Americans throughout American history, with direct and intimate scenes of black middle-class life, painted in vibrant color with detailed patterning. Kerry James Marshall: Mastry is co-organized by the MCA with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The exhibition is on view at the MCA through September 25, 2016.
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
(L-R): Cheryl Lynn Bruce, First Lady Michelle Obama, Kerry James Marshall and Madeleine Grynsztejn (Photo courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art).