A Curious Blindness: Artists Responding To Race and Identity Politics

a curious blindness, at Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, brings together the work of eighteen early- to mid-career artists. The thematic focus is their interpretations  of how people of color are treated and represented in today’s world.  The title of the exhibition,  “a curious blindness,” comes  from the poem, People, by Jean Toomer, a writer from the Harlem Renaissance who struggled with his mixed-race heritage.

One of the first pieces you see when entering the gallery is a giant “whitening” tube next to a small video screen. This is the work of Baltimore artist Nora Howell. In her performance and installation she created a “public intervention that animates her sculptures while drawing attention to her own relationship to whiteness as well as inciting a conversation about whitening as a social contract,” according to the exhibition catalog.

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Two large galleries and three smaller rooms are populated with videos,  performance art, photography, collage,  paintings and sculpture. The pieces are as different as the artists who created them but are all thought-provoking and engaging.

The exhibit is the the third presentation of MODA Curates. This is an annual opportunity offered by The Wallach Art Gallery and the MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies Program (MODA) for outstanding curatorial proposals related to students’ theses. a curious blindness is curated by Vivian Chui, Tara Kuruvilla, and Doris Zhao and will be on view until June 13.

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