Poor People’s Art: A (Short) Visual History of Poverty in the United States; Artist's talk with Nina Berman January 12

January 10, 2023 | Source: Monroe Gallery of Photography


January 13 - March 4, 2023

University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum

dark photograph of 2 men outside of abandoned cottages where they were housed while doing slave labor at what was once the Florida School for Boys

Nina Berman: John Bonner and Richard Huntly, from the series The Black Boys of Dozier, 2013 

Thousands of boys, mainly black, passed through Dozier since it opened in 1901 as a reform school for wayward boys. But allegations over the years suggest it functioned more like a slave labor camp, with verified reports of children being hog tied and shackled. The name of the institution changed as each successive administration installed its own brand of punishment and forced labor, finally closing in 2011, not because of allegations, but according to the State, because of budget issues.

Panel discussion Thursday, January 12 with artists featured in Poor People's Art: A (Short) Visual History of Poverty in the United States, including Nina Berman, Rico Gatson, and Jason Lazarus. Curator Christian Viveros-Fauné will lead the conversation exploring issues and topics addressed in the exhibition. This event is free and open to the public, Facebook live link here.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is well known for his "I Have a Dream" speech, yet much less emphasis is placed on his campaign to seek justice for America's poor, "The Poor People's Campaign." This was a multi-cultural, multi-faith, multi-racial movement aimed at uniting poor people and their allies to demand an end to poverty and inequality. Fifty-three years after Dr. King's death, the Reverend William Barber II launched a contemporary push to fulfill MLK's ambitious brief — one that calls for a "revolution of values" that unites poor and impacted communities across the country. The exhibition Poor People's Art: A (Short) Visual History of Poverty in the United States represents a visual response to Dr. King's "last great dream" as well as Reverend Barber's recent "National Call for Moral Revival."

With artworks spanning more than 50 years, the exhibition is divided into two parts: Resurrection (1968-1994) and Revival (1995-2022). Resurrection includes photographs, paintings, prints, videos, sculptures, books, and ephemera made by a radically inclusive company of American artists, from Jill Freedman's photographs of Resurrection City, the tent enclave that King's followers erected on the National Mall in 1968, to John Ahearns' plaster cast sculpture Luis Fuentes, South Bronx (1979). Revival offers contemporary engagement across a range of approaches, materials, and points of view. Conceived in a declared opposition to poverty, racism, militarism, environmental destruction, health inequities, and other interlocking injustices, this exhibition shows how artists in the US have visualized poverty and its myriad knock-on effects since 1968. Participating artists include John Ahearn, Nina Berman, Martha De la Cruz, Jill Freedman, Rico Gatson, Mark Thomas Gibson, Corita Kent, Jason Lazarus, Miguel Luciano, Hiram Maristany, Narsiso Martinez, Adrian Piper, Robert Rauschenberg, Rodrigo Valenzuela, William Villalongo & Shraddha Ramani.

Poor People's Art is curated by Christian Viveros-Fauné, CAM Curator-at-Large and organized by the USF Contemporary Art Museum.   Exhibition Press Release

Tags: artist's talk Martin Luther King museums Nina Berman photography exhibits poor people's campaign poverty