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ADDISON GALLERY OF AMERICAN ART
“Dawoud Bey’s Projects”
by Julie Bernson
Director of Education, Addison Gallery of American Art
Phillips Academy, Andover
Dawoud Bey’s residency-based work began at the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, in 1992 when he was invited by then-director Jock Reynolds to visit the campus and neighboring communities over the course of two months. In this period of time – and during three subsequent Addison residencies – Dawoud has created a series of critical/provocative engagements among students, teachers, schools, communities, and the museum. These engagements have also extended to a public school in neighboring Lawrence, MA that has participated in Addison Gallery Education programs for a number of years. Through discussions, conversations, creating photographs of high school students, and – during the most recent residency – curating, he has stimulated powerful discussions around topics ranging from the nature of identity and stereotypes to the nature of art practice and the role of the museum.
While Bey’s “Class Pictures” exhibition was at the Addison in 2007, he curated a show from the Addison’s collection, “Do You See What I See: Representing the Black Subject,” examining the various ways that the black subject has figured in a broad range of American photography. Classic American portrait paintings from the pre- and post-Revolutionary period were also on view in the museum during this time. The spontaneous, vulnerable personal narratives written by the high school sitters paired with Dawoud’s searingly direct photographs of them – along with the larger context of the historical images from the museum’s collection – provoked further engagements with students of many ages and backgrounds. From elementary to college-level, visits to the exhibition inspired student expression through their own photography and writing and continual reflection on representation – in both the museum and in their own school and community contexts. Bey’s practice as an artist continues to be a rich, deeply engaging and multifaceted one.
Link to Addison Gallery of American Art