Across six states throughout the South and Midwest, Whitfield Lovell: Passages will begin its national tour in South Florida at the Boca Raton Museum of Art (on view February 15 – May 21).
This is the largest exhibition of Lovell’s work focusing on lost African American history, and raises universal questions about America’s collective heritage.
In collaboration with the artist, the American Federation of Arts (AFA) organized this exhibition, which is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Terra Foundation for American Art. It encompasses the entire first floor galleries of the Boca Raton Museum of Art (more than 7,500 square feet).
Lovell’s multi-sensory installations are being exhibited together for the first time in a museum-wide show of this magnitude.
“I see the so-called ‘anonymous’ people in these vintage photographs as being stand-ins for the ancestors I will never know,” says Whitfield Lovell.
“I see history as being very much alive. One day, 100 years from now, people will be talking about us as history. The way I think about time is very different – I don’t think it really was very long ago that these things happened, it wasn’t that long ago that my grandmother’s grandmother was a slave,” adds Lovell. “The ancient Native American principles say it takes seven generations to overcome a tragedy, so in this context of generations we can begin to grasp why we are at this point we are living in now.”
These installations create a profound immersive experience that enables visitors to become participants in, not just observers of, the experience of these ancestors who were lost to time,” says Pauline Forlenza, the Director and CEO of American Federation of Arts.
“Together, these works convey passages between bondage, freedom, and socioeconomic independence, promoting a deeper connection with African American histories through art. An exhibition of this magnitude would not be possible without the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the six museums selected for this tour,” adds Forlenza.
“This is a milestone exhibition, and the Boca Raton Museum of Art is honored to be chosen as the first venue to premiere this national museum tour,” says Irvin Lippman, the Executive Director of the Boca Raton Museum of Art.
“In our modern-day world, so feverishly focused on ever-decreasing attention spans, the depth of presence we experience when walking through Lovell’s immersive art reminds us that remembering the past is something that matters,” adds Irvin Lippman.
Lovell is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Genius Grant, and is recognized as one of the world’s leading artistic interpreters of lost African American history.