Join Root Division this July and August for “I AM…”, curated by Adrianne Ramsey. This group exhibition features 15 artists who question and challenge established definitions and historical narratives in regards to personal identity. The exhibition title is abbreviated from a 2013 painting series made by American artist Hank Willis Thomas titled “I Am A Man.” The images are a reproduction and re-appropriation of the simple, declarative protest signs carried by a large group of Black men during the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike. The signs are meant to assert Black men’s rights against segregation and racism—affirming their identities as human beings and U.S. citizens, while levying questions of representation, commodification, and the value of one’s identity.
The interdisciplinary works in “I AM…” respond critically to the idea that American identity is complicit and bound to patterns of violence and rampant discrimination. Adrianne Ramsey, the exhibition’s curator shares that: “over the past few years, we as a nation have witnessed people from several marginalized groups—Muslims, African-Americans, Latinos, undocumented immigrants, indigenous peoples, and members of the LGBTQ+ community—protesting on and off the internet to fight against the ideological and physical violence they often face. Unfortunately, the continued passage and implementation of punitive enforcement policies is a painful reminder of the political marginalization of select groups in the United States.”
This exhibition explores a historical through-line starting with the civil rights era imagery conjured by the exhibition’s title, moving into a recognition of the energy and urgency of the identity politics of the 1980-90s, and into our current era—where the language of discrimination and state violence simply shifted—finding viable stakes in the age of social media and Donald Trump.
Brittany Rose Bradley
Lisa Jan Fong
Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello (aka Rael San Fratello)
Reniel Del Rosario
** Root Division Alum