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New exhibit brings focuses on Black male identity

Zun Lee’s, Jerell Willis carrying Fidel over the Brooklyn Bridge, a 2012 digital print on archival paper.

Diggs Gallery’s new exhibit brings together nine emerging artists to help to dismantle stereotypes about Black male identity.

“Do You See Me?” an exhibit at Winston-Salem State University’s (WSSU) Diggs Gallery, brings together nine emerging artists who are questioning the dominant narratives and imagery associated with Black male identity.

The Diggs Gallery is free and open to the public.

Noted African-American novelist, literary critic, and scholar Ralph Ellison coined that experience in his critically acclaimed 1952 novel “Invisible Man,” where he writes: “I am invisible; understand, simply because people refuse to see me. …When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination – indeed, everything and anything except me.”

Endia Beal

Diggs Gallery Director Endia Beal, who is also curator of the exhibition, said her goal is to create an exhibition that speaks to the experiences of our students, our community and the nation.

“What does it mean to be SEEN? To be viewed, treated, and loved as a human being?” asks Beal.

The exhibition showcases the works of artists from across the United States and Canada. Artists are: Davion Alston, Jordan Casteel, John Edmonds, Ivan Forde, Aaron Fowler, Zun Lee, Terence Nance, Chris Watts and Lamar Whidbee.

“These artists are un-apologetically urging the viewer to step outside of stereotypes and prejudices that stigmatize black men and focus on themes of love, family, pain and pride,” Beal said. “The themes presented in the exhibition are shared amongst all people and connect us as one. So, do you really see me? Do our differences make you uncomfortable? Together, these artists are working through the struggle and asking us to acknowledge the past, work to change the present, and be hopeful that in the future everyone is treated with love.”

Jordan Casteel’s Miles & Jojo, 2014, Oil on canvas

Dr. James Pope, assistant professor of Liberal Studies and program coordinator of African and Diasporic Studies at WSSU, said “Do You See Me?” is “a clear, intentional meditation on ways to take control, re-inscribe, and resist dominant narratives of what it means to be SEEN. To be a black man, woman, transgender – to be what the creator created us to be!”

“Do You See Me?”

  • Exhibit: Oct. 14, 2016-March 1, 2017
  • Opening Reception: 4-7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14,
  • Artist Talk and Annual Gloria Diggs Banks Lecture: 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20, with award-winning Canadian photographer, physician and educator Zun Lee.

Aaron Fowler’s He Was, a 2015 mixed media work.

About Diggs Gallery

Located on the campus of Winston-Salem State University, a Historically Black College, Diggs Gallery is one of the South’s leading institutions dedicated to the study of Africana and African American art. The gallery not only preserves and interprets the art of the African Diaspora and the unique collection of WSSU, but also maintains one of the nation’s finest collections of public art by artists including John Biggers, Mel Edwards, Richard Hunt, Tyrone Mitchell, Beverly Buchanan and more.

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