Counternarratives

Mary Church Terrell Main Library façade, 148 W. College St., Oberlin
Venturi Art Building façade, 87 N. Main St., Oberlin
October 30–December 21, 2018



Visiting artist Alexandra Bell brings her Counternarratives project to Oberlin with large-scale works mounted on the facades of two campus buildings. The two works—one installed on the art museum and one on the main library—call attention to how issues around race and violence have been reported in the New York Times. The Brooklyn-based artist, who holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, urges viewers to think critically about the circulation and consumption of news and the politics of the narratives presented.

Counternarratives is presented by the Oberlin College Libraries and the Allen Memorial Art Museum in conjunction with the AMAM exhibition Radically Ordinary: Scenes from Black Life in America Since 1968 and a related symposium, both organized by Andrea Gyorody, Ellen Johnson ’33 Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, the latter together with Assistant Professor of Art History Matthew Rarey

A number of U.S. college campuses have hosted Counternarratives. Oberlin will present two 2017 works by Bell: A Teenager with Promise responds to reporting on the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri; Charlottesville deconstructs a front-page New York Times report on a 2017 march by torch-bearing white nationalists that generated a large counter protest.

RELATED PROGRAMS

Artist Lecture with Alexandra Bell 
Adam J. Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Hallock Auditorium
Monday, October 29, 5:30 p.m.
Bell speaks about her work at the intersection of media, bias, and the visual arts.

Symposium — “Creating Space: Curating Black Art Now”
Allen Memorial Art Museum, 87 N. Main St., Oberlin
Thursday, November 1, 5:45 p.m.
Naima J. Keith, deputy director of the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, gives a keynote address focused on her work with contemporary black artists and issues of social justice. Her talk is part of the museum’s First Thursday series and will be followed by a reception. Free.
Friday, November 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Curatorial leaders in the fields of African, African American, and diasporic art gather for sessions on what it means to curate black art today, and how the museum itself is challenged and changed through a focus on works by artists of color. The day includes formal presentations, object talks by students, and a panel of Oberlin alumni working in the visual arts. Free; no pre-registration required.

Guest Speaker — Maria Balinska
Oberlin College, Carnegie Building (Root Room), 52 W. Lorain St., Oberlin
Saturday, November 3, 8 p.m.
A talk highlighting the need for high-quality, evidence-based journalism and the vital role academic experts can play in the public arena. Maria Balinska is co-CEO and editor of the United States edition of The Conversation, part of a global, nonprofit network of newsrooms committed to transparency and credibility. Balinska is also author of The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread (Yale University Press, 2009). The program is presented in conjunction with the annual meeting and dinner of the Friends of the Oberlin College Libraries.

Image: Claremont Colleges Library