Kara Walker, The Emancipation Approximation (Scene 18), 1999–2000
Kara Walker (American, born 1969), The Emancipation Approximation (Scene 18), 1999–2000, courtesy the artist
Avel de Knight, The Rehearsal, 1955
Avel de Knight (American, 1923–1995), The Rehearsal, 1955, oil on canvas, 33 x 45 in. © Estate of Avel de Knight.
Donald E. Camp, Man Who Feels Shape (David Stephens), 2006
Donald E. Camp (American, born 1940), Man Who Feels Shape (David Stephens), 2006, courtesy the artist
Paul Keene, Blue Dress, 1985
Paul Keene (American, 1920–2009), Blue Dress, 1985, courtesy the artist’s estate
Moe Brooker, Intentions and Improvisations, 2012
Moe Brooker (American, born 1940), Intentions and Improvisations, 2012, courtesy the artist

Constructing Identity

Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African-American Art

JAN 28 – JUN 18, 2017

In 21st-century America, questions of race and identity are being explored as never before. This exploration has prompted many artists of color to investigate what constitutes identity, community, and the idea of a so-called post-racial society. Constructing Identity: Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African-American Art brings together paintings, sculpture, prints, and drawings by prominent contemporary African-American artists along with a selection of historical works from the 1930s, 1940s, and Civil Rights era.Drawing from the Petrucci Family Foundation collection, Constructing Identity features works by more than 80 artists, including Henry Ossawa Tanner, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Faith Ringgold, Radcliffe Bailey, Kara Walker, and Mickalene Thomas as well as John Biggers, Barbara Bullock, David Driskell, Joyce Scott, and Sonya Clark, among others. The exhibition brings awareness to the contributions of artists of color, whose work is often historically underrepresented in museums and galleries, to foster a more complete understanding. Constructing Identity includes works by 11 artists whose artwork is also held in the collection of the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., as well as Northwest artists such as Portland painter Arvie Smith (whose own exhibition at PAM has been extended through March 12).

As part of a growing and more thoughtful dialogue about how art reflects the experiences of African Americans, Constructing Identity visually represents a cross-section of themes that speak to all of us in voices from communities of color in America.

“Historically, and within African-American communities, a central question is how do we best represent ourselves—and how do these representations come together to form an ever-changing statement of identity?” asks Berrisford Boothe, curator for the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African-American Art. “We offer this art to present a more complete and informed view of African Americans as a people and reveal the dynamic nature, narratives, and impulses that constitute our full humanity.”

Founded in 2006, the Petrucci Family Foundation’s aims to support education and create opportunity for Americans at every stage of and station in life. Its collection of African-American art is a targeted initiative established to focus on, collect, conserve, and exhibit an inspiring range of works, thereby confirming African-American art’s essential place in the history and discourse of American art. The collection celebrates the beauty, compassion, strength, and persistent will within the culture of African Americans. “We want to collect master works that define humanity, that show characters in their full, most authentic human moments,” Boothe says.

Constructing Identity is accompanied by a catalog, an artist panel discussion and artist talks on February 11, and additional programs and community partnerships.

Organized by Portland Art Museum and guest curated by Berrisford Boothe, Professor of Art at Lehigh University.

Community Gallery & Artist Programs

In conjunction with the exhibition Constructing Identity, the Portland Art Museum is excited to be partnering with the Museum of Impact (MOI) on The Art Is Ours education and community gallery. MOI is the first mobile social justice museum creating a more just, connected and compassionate society through our content, education, and outreach. It works to inspire action by exploring self, society, art, and activism. The Art Is Ours gallery includes a reading lounge with over 30 books covering African American art history and artists featured in the exhibition as well as several books for children and families.  The gallery also includes a wall dedicated to displaying creative responses from Portland-based artists of color (ranging from youth participants and emerging artists to more established artists), and a community response wall (coming soon).

“People of the African-American diaspora are keepers of the culture. We hold space for the fullness of our humanity, our brilliance, our being, our right to self-expression. The Constructing Identity exhibition, featuring over one hundred works of art, is a roadmap for our journey as we pivot, pause, leap, dance, sway, and glide through the Black experience, leaving a visual legacy trail to enrich the viewer. The Art Is Ours means a tipping point is at hand, where African Americans have agency in our representation and as cultural institutions work to ensure that we are seen, valued, and respected in every facet. To understand The Art Is Ours is to crack open the intersections of our lived experience as people of color, laying our heritage bare for all to see. To proclaim The Art Is Ours sets intentions and permeates this space with consensus and creative resilience. To embody The Art Is Ours is to extend our consciousness towards black excellence, black joy, black radical thought, and black lives—a contested and creative space that asks critical questions, expands the narrative, and finds the through lines from me to we.”
Monica O. Montgomery, Founding Director, Museum of Impact

Sponsors

The Petrucci Family Foundation
Louis and Virginia Clemente Foundation
The Boeing Company
Ronni Lacroute
Exhibition Series Sponsors

Promotional Partners

Portland Trail Blazers

The Skanner News
The Portland Observer
Apr
30
Sun
International Jazz Day
Apr 30 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Photograph of Darrell GrantPart I: 1 p.m.

The Incredible Journey of Jazz Interactive History Program

Learn about the history of jazz, from its beginnings in Africa to its development in the United States and current role in global culture, through this special Museum edition of The Incredible Journey of Jazz. Developed and presented by PDX Jazz, this interactive program features a narrator and jazz ensemble who together demonstrate characterizations of historical figures and musical illustrations from different eras and styles to provide the audience with a living experience of jazz. This program will be kicked off by honoring Darrell Grant with the 2017 Portland Jazz Hero Award presented by the national Jazz Journalists Association.

Part II: 3 p.m.

The Sound of Identity performance with Darrell Grant and the MJ New Quartet

Download the program

Like the visual artists represented in the Museum’s special exhibition Constructing Identity, African-American jazz artists contributed to black identity. Jazz both drew on and was inspired by the work of African-American visual artists. At the same time, jazz performers and composers like Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and others continually explored their own expressions of Black American identity.  

This project, which Grant has titled, The Sound of Identity seeks to highlight the connections between the visual and musical arts through pairing compositions by historic African-American jazz artists with selected works from the Constructing Identity exhibit.  The works will be arranged and performed by the chamber-jazz quartet MJ New, featuring Darrell Grant, piano, Mike Horsfall, vibes, Marcus Shelby, bass and Carlton Jackson, drums.

Spotify playlist of music to be presented as part of The Sound of Identity.

Also, while you are at the Museum be sure to stop into the Andree Stevens Room to see a collection of exceptional art created by students who participated in the PDX Jazz: Jazz in the Schools education outreach program. This show of select works will be on view April 28 – 30.

Presented in collaboration with PDX Jazz.

Admission to the Museum is included with program ticket.

Purchase tickets
Public Tour: Constructing Identity
Apr 30 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Avel de Knight, The Rehearsal, 1955
Avel de Knight (American, 1923–1995), The Rehearsal, 1955, oil on canvas, 33 x 45 in. © Estate of Avel de Knight.

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Constructing Identity.

May
7
Sun
Public Tour: Constructing Identity
May 7 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Avel de Knight, The Rehearsal, 1955
Avel de Knight (American, 1923–1995), The Rehearsal, 1955, oil on canvas, 33 x 45 in. © Estate of Avel de Knight.

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Constructing Identity.

May
10
Wed
Midday Art Break: Constructing Identity
May 10 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Take a break from your workday on the second Wednesday of the month and join a curator, museum educator, artist, or local scholar for a 45-minute talk in the galleries.

This month, Mike Murawski, Director of Education and Public Programs, will take a closer look at works within the special exhibition Constructing Identity and discuss the Art is Ours community gallery, a collaboration with the Museum of Impact that features creative responses to the Constructing Identity exhibition by Portland-based artists of color.

Space is limited. Advance tickets recommended.

Purchase tickets
May
13
Sat
Public Tour: Constructing Identity
May 13 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Avel de Knight, The Rehearsal, 1955
Avel de Knight (American, 1923–1995), The Rehearsal, 1955, oil on canvas, 33 x 45 in. © Estate of Avel de Knight.

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Constructing Identity.

May
14
Sun
Family Tour: Constructing Identity
May 14 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Avel de Knight, The Rehearsal, 1955
Avel de Knight (American, 1923–1995), The Rehearsal, 1955, oil on canvas, 33 x 45 in. © Estate of Avel de Knight.

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Constructing Identity.

In Dialogue: Art, Power, And Identity @ Trustee Room, Mark Building
May 14 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

In Dialogue is an occasional series of interdisciplinary, discussion-based seminars that explore art on view at the Museum in relation to works in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The May seminar I Am Not Your Negro Woman: Intersectionality and the Black Female Subject will address some of the big ideas raised by the special exhibition Constructing Identity: Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art. Moving through a brief history of Black womanhood and its portrayal in the American imagination, this seminar will examine representations of Black female subjects in several works from the Collection, and consider the role of art in challenging or reproducing dehumanizing stereotypes. Claudia Rankine’s 2015 New York Times essay “The Condition of Black Life is One of Mourning” will help guide our discussion and emphasize its contemporary relevance to social justice movements, as will issues of representation, politics of respectability, and the close ties between commodification, capital, power, and privilege. Black women will be centered in our investigation, which will also explore evidence and documentation of African-American experience at large.

Seminar facilitator Béalleka has over 10 years’ experience as a university professor of literature and cultural studies specializing in intersectional identity and contemporary representations of American slavery. She left academia in 2015 to be a public educator, writer, and performer and offers diversity, equity, and inclusion training through her firm, Béalleka Consulting. Stay tuned for her co-hosted show, The Unlearning Podcast, dropping Summer 2017!

In preparation for the seminar, please spend time in the Constructing Identity exhibition and complete the following readings:

Claudia Rankine, “The Condition of Black Life is One of Mourning

Harriet Jacobs, Preface by the Author and Introduction by the Editor from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. The full text is accessible at http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/jacobs/jacobs.html.

A PDF of the reading will be provided on request. Please contact Hana Layson at hana.layson@pam.org.

Space is limited. Registration required.

Educators, please enter the promo code EDUCATOR16 with Adult ticket type to receive your discount.

Purchase tickets
May
18
Thu
Art & Conversation: Constructing Identity
May 18 @ 9:15 am – 11:30 am

Join us the third Thursday of every month for coffee and conversation followed by a lecture or film screening. This month, Mike Murawski, Director of Education and Public Programs, will highlight works within the special exhibition Constructing Identity. He will also be joined by special guests to discuss the Art is Ours community gallery, a collaboration with the Museum of Impact that features creative responses to the Constructing Identity exhibition by Portland-based artists of color.

Coffee at 9:15 a.m. in the Fields Ballroom, Mark Building; lecture at 10:15am in the Whitsell Auditorium, Main Building. Those attending the lecture are also welcome to explore the galleries after the talk. This series is free for adults 62 and over and is made possible through the Marguerite and Harry Kendall Education Fund. Additional support comes from Rick and Erika Miller.

Public Tour: Constructing Identity
May 18 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Avel de Knight, The Rehearsal, 1955
Avel de Knight (American, 1923–1995), The Rehearsal, 1955, oil on canvas, 33 x 45 in. © Estate of Avel de Knight.

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Constructing Identity.

May
21
Sun
Public Tour: Constructing Identity
May 21 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Avel de Knight, The Rehearsal, 1955
Avel de Knight (American, 1923–1995), The Rehearsal, 1955, oil on canvas, 33 x 45 in. © Estate of Avel de Knight.

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Constructing Identity.

May
25
Thu
Public Tour: Constructing Identity
May 25 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Avel de Knight, The Rehearsal, 1955
Avel de Knight (American, 1923–1995), The Rehearsal, 1955, oil on canvas, 33 x 45 in. © Estate of Avel de Knight.

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Constructing Identity.

May
27
Sat
Upstanders Festival: Voices of the Unheard
May 27 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Upstanders Festival
Photo provided by Museum of Impact

It’s time to amplify voices and activate caring to make our city a better place. Join the Museum of Impact, Don’t Shoot Portland, and the Portland Art Museum as we turn a listening ear to witness unmet needs and unheard voices in PDX.  Enjoy a ‘woke’ & fun-filled day of spoken word, restorative justice, music and media, interactive workshops, art zines, and poster making in support of Black Lives Matter, houselessness, and building tolerance for immigrants.  Build an awareness for social justice alongside neighbors, artists, changemakers, and future friends. Channel your inner Upstander—stand up, speak up, and act up—as we build community together!

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Constructing Identity: Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, on view through June 18.  Special thanks to the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Marylhurst University for their participation and support.

Upstanders Festival is a social justice extravaganza, shining a light on the bravery and brilliance of activism and changemakers in our midst. Produced by the Museum of Impact, this event series transforms audiences from bystanders to Upstanders through a variety of activities to enhance equity and creative expression.

  • Make art and build power with like-minded locals.
  • Articulate hopes and dreams for our future.
  • Discover the intersectional role you play in Being the Change!
Public Tour: Constructing Identity
May 27 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Avel de Knight, The Rehearsal, 1955
Avel de Knight (American, 1923–1995), The Rehearsal, 1955, oil on canvas, 33 x 45 in. © Estate of Avel de Knight.

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Constructing Identity.

Jun
1
Thu
In Conversation with Mickalene Thomas
Jun 1 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Mickalene ThomasJoin us for a conversation with former Portlander and acclaimed multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker Mickalene Thomas. Best known for large-scale portraits, landscapes, and interiors that combine art-historical, political, and pop-cultural references, Thomas’ work often investigates complex notions of femininity, beauty, and racial representation. Her work is part of significant permanent collections including The Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Hammer Museum, among many others.

Purchase tickets