re:mancipation at the Chazen Museum of Art
On view Feb. 6–June 25, re:mancipation is a collaborative project that has undertaken a two-year study of Emancipation Group and its complex history, while cultivating a more nuanced understanding of our nation and ourselves.
On February 4, 2023, the Chazen Museum of Art, artist Sanford Biggers, and MASK Consortium debuted the results of this intense examination as an exhibition, documentary, and website that will provide audiences with an intimate look at the project’s directive to address social justice and equity through artistic interpretation. re:mancipation encompasses the reimagining of the Chazen’s problematic Thomas Ball sculpture Emancipation Group, the repositioning of additional objects in the museum’s collection, creation of a new artwork by Biggers, as well as new research, archival, and educational material.
Emancipation Group has been in the Chazen Museum of Art collection since 1976. The sculpture depicts Abraham Lincoln standing over a kneeling freedman. A large bronze version is in Lincoln Park in Washington, DC, and one was recently removed from public space in Boston. Biggers is known for engaging a wide range of artists, disciplines, and techniques in his extraordinary body of work. He believes that the Chazen, a university art museum with a diverse set of audiences on a large Big Ten campus, is the ideal partner for this interrogative project. Over the last several years the Chazen has developed a reputation for activating innovative new approaches to its collection, exhibition programming and outreach. One of the key elements of this approach is to partner with contemporary artists to better illuminate and understand, in new context, historical works in the Chazen collection. This project is the most significant realization of this approach to date.
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