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Shaun Leonardo: WITNESS

Curated by the Advanced Museum Studies class

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Recommended by Destination Williamstown

On View: Mar. 29 – April 22, 2018

Artist Talk/Preview: Wed. March 28, 5:30pm

Opening Celebration: Thursday Mar. 29, 5pm – 7pm

The Advanced Museum Studies students curate and install an exhibition

featuring the work of performance and visual artist and museum educator, Shaun Leonardo

image shown: Walter Scott (drawings 1) - charcoal on paper, each 8 1/2 x 11 in., 2015

The show will feature drawings and videos by New York-based artist and educator Shaun Leonardo. These works include references to the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, and Sean Bell, among other men of color.

According to the students who organized “Witness,” they created the exhibition as a space for people to approach difficult topics without prescribing an experience. Visitors are encouraged to focus in on these works and acknowledge the subject matter in a public environment.

Leonardo explained, “I interrogate audience members’ memory of these tragedies in order to unpack the complexity of how one internalizes trauma, and in doing so, attempt to restore a sense of humanity to how these events are so often flattened in the media.”

He added, “Ultimately, I question why these particular images of fallen black and brown bodies circulate in the media, and in that, measure our complicity in how an image survives in our collective consciousness.”

Throughout this spring semester, students worked with their instructor, Laura Thompson, MASS MoCA’s director of education and the curator of Kidspace, to realize this exhibition. Students were responsible for all aspects of the exhibition, from interpretation to its layout, and from promotion to programming.

Thompson explained, “Our class challenge was to curate an exhibition that would not offer solutions, take one point of view, or try to form consensus. Rather, we were looking to design an exhibition that would allow for co-searching, collaboration and participation.”

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To see more images from the exhibition click see more imageshere

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