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In 2020-2021, Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art celebrates its 40th anniversary. Leading up to this milestone, The Block introduced a major initiative to acquire works of art that encourage critical thinking about the representation of history. This initiative culminates with Who Says, Who Shows, What Counts, an exhibition inviting visitors to think critically about how artists, artworks, and museums engage with narratives of the past.
Highlighting more than 80 modern and contemporary artworks recently acquired by The Block, the exhibition considers our constantly changing understanding of the past through the lens of artistic practice. It features works by a wide-ranging selection of artists exploring the idea of history, such as Dawoud Bey, Shan Goshorn, the Guerrilla Girls, Louise Lawler, Kerry James Marshall, Catherine Opie, Walid Raad, Man Ray, Edward Steichen, and Kara Walker.
An accompanying publication deepens the exhibition’s exploration of The Block’s collection. Showcasing the depth and breadth of recent acquisitions, more than 50 short essays reflect the perspectives of over 20 different academic units. Including voices from students, alumni, faculty, and staff, both the book and exhibition reflect on the ways in which art can facilitate multidisciplinary connections, ask challenging questions, and help us to envision new futures.
The exhibit is open September 22 through December 5, 2021.