Ken Gonzales-Day: Shadowlands

January 19 through April 16, 2017

Ken Gonzales-Day is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice considers the historical construction of race. He supplements his photographs with research and writing that engage critically with history, art history, and Western conventions of race, blending historical tragedies with current events. Using photography and video, he explores trauma and resistance as experienced and embodied by racially oppressed populations in the U.S.

This exhibit will be a concise survey of the artist’s career, including works from the Erased Lynching, Searching for California’s Hang Tree, and Run Up series. His most recent work draws parallels between historical lynchings and high profile cases of police brutality affecting communities of color today. The core of the Run Up series is a cinematic restaging of the 1920 lynching of Charles Valento. Utilizing details drawn from the coroner’s report and his own archival research, Gonzales-Day chose to focus on this particular event in order to draw attention to the police presence at the scene that tacitly condoned the extralegal violence.

A survey of Gonzales-Day’s work brings up one of his most poignant questions: What is the difference between collective resistance and racially motivated violence? It is a question being asked after recent tragic events in cities around the country, such as Ferguson and Los Angeles, as well as St. Paul and Minneapolis. By presenting historical occurrences in conjunction with contemporary events Gonzales-Day collapses the historical distance and exposes the unchanging reality of racialized violence in the United States. Exploring the dichotomy between presence and absence, Gonzales-Day draws attention to the selective vision of American history and the perception of people of color as expendable. He combines scholarly research and a photo-journalistic sensibility with rich aesthetics to create jarringly haunting portraits of historical trauma present in both the people and the land of the United States.

Reviews and press coverage of Shadowlands are coming in, with special mention in Secrets of the City, Minnesota Monthly, and other outlets.

Exhibition-related programs:

McNally Smith College of Music: Art + Music Series
Tuesday, February 21, 7 p.m.
The Art + Music series continues with a performance by McNally Smith College of Music musicians in response to Ken Gonzales-Day’s short film, Run Up.

Selected Reading from A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, with Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria and Diane Wilson, moderated by Sun Yung Shin
Tuesday, March 7, 7 p.m.
Poet Sun Yung Shin will be joined in conversation by Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria and Diane Wilson, all contributors to the anthology A Good Time for Truth: Race in Minnesota.

Artist Response: Serita Colette, Jessica Lopez Lyman, and Junauda Petrus in Futuristic Moves
Saturday, March 18, 1 p.m.
This improvisational performance installation explores Black and Brown ancestral knowledge as a form of healing amidst state-sanctioned and collective practices of violence. This piece relishes in both our innate ability to heal and the intentional witnessing that accompanies such resistance.

Panel Discussion: Yasufumi Nakamori (Minneapolis Institute of Art), Chaun Webster (Ancestry Books), Taiyon Coleman (St. Kate’s), Alberto Justiniano (Teatro del Pueblo)
Sunday March 26, 2 p.m.
George Latimer Central Library, 90 W. 4th Street, St. Paul
Details to come soon.

The Reading Room
January 19 to April 16, 2017
For the duration of the show, the museum’s Materials Lab has been transformed into the Reading Room, filled with books, poetry, and digital media that further explore themes around racialized violence in America. This is a space for going deeper with the artwork of Ken Gonzales-Day and the issues it addresses; it’s a quiet place to process, reflect, and offer your own response. Reading Room resources are curated by Gonzales-Day; faculty in the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota; poet, writer, and educator Sun Yung Shin; and the M staff. Take advantage of this space to come in and sit for a while. And if you have something to say, please add a comment to the “response wall” located within the Reading Room as well. We’re eager to hear your responses to the exhibit.

Ken Gonzales-Day: Shadowlands is curated by Christopher Atkins, Curator of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the M. The exhibit and all related programs are free and open to the public.

Ken Gonzales-Day received a Painting (Art History minor) BFA at Pratt Institute and an MFA in photography at University California, Irvine. Gonzales-Day is a Professor of Art and Humanities at Scripps College. He has received many prestigious awards and museums fellowships, including the Terra Senior Fellow, Terra Foundation, Giverney, France; COLA Individual Artist Award, Los Angeles; Art Mattes Grant, New York City; Visiting Scholar/Artist-in-Residence, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; Senior Fellow, American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; Fellow, Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Center, Bellagio, Italy; Van Lier Fellow, ISP, Whitney Museum of American Art.

His work also is in numerous permanent collections, including Smithsonian American Art Museum; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Getty Research Institute; L’Ecole des beaux-arts, Paris; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Art Commission; Eileen Harris Norton Foundation; and Norton Museum of Art.

Ken Gonzales-Day