The exhibit, showcasing her printmaking works, celebrates "the beauty, importance, and complexity of positive representation of African American children."
For her upcoming solo exhibition at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, Middle and Upper School Visual Arts Teacher Jennifer Mack-Watkins drew inspiration from an eclectic array of sources—a courageous, 19th-century Vermont poet and storyteller, Daisy Turner; a groundbreaking monthly magazine for African American children published by W.E.B. DuBois a century years ago; and her own childhood experiences, including an interest in dolls, growing up in the South.
In the show, entitled "Children of the Sun," which runs from March 18–June 13 and is curated by David Rios Ferreira, Ms. Mack-Watkins uses dolls as a framework to explore the rich intermingling of imagery, history, and storytelling behind all these sources. Eleven of Ms. Mack-Watkins' original silkscreens as well as two color lithographs are showcased.
"In all her work, Mack-Watkins investigates societal conformities that isolate and confine individuals into pre-defined identities," writes Mr. Rios Ferreira on the museum's website. "With 'Children of the Sun,' she helps us recognize that a predefined representation of one's self, a community, and a race can be embodied in something as seemingly commonplace as a child's doll."
For her part, Ms. Mack-Watkins explains, "My current body of work is part of an ongoing celebration of the beauty, importance, and complexity of positive representation of African American children in literature, media, and pop culture. I am interested in using aesthetics as a form of resistance against the erasure and invisibility of African American culture. . . 'Children of the Sun' demonstrates how a child's innocence can be seen as an act of hope and resilience. Through my art, I seek to provide a sense of assurance for all African American children and hope the work encourages imagination and aspiration."
Congratulations, Mrs. Mack-Watkins!
Photo of Ms. Mack Watkins (top) by Elizabeth Brooks; Langston, 2020, slikscreen, 9x12"
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