December 4, 2017

Williamstown, Massachusetts—Mixed media artist Titus Kaphar—who demonstrates “the deliberateness of a surgeon coupled with a slightly maniacal urgency” (Art in America)—presents the free lecture “Making Space for Black History: Amending the Landscape of American Art” at the Clark Art Institute on Thursday, February 1 at 2 pm. Because the event is part of Claiming Williams Day, seating is free for holders of valid Williams College IDs and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional free seating is available to the public but is extremely limited; reserve early. To reserve, visit or call 413 458 0524.
Kaphar explores race, criminality, and social justice in his work, often appropriating accepted styles and mediums to include stories of those traditionally excluded from art history. His lecture explores topics sometimes overlooked in a museum context: Can art amend history? Is it possible to create new artifacts from the physical residues and inadequacies of the past?
The artist has said of his work: “I’ve always been fascinated by history: art history, American history, world history, individual history—how history is written, recorded, distorted, exploited, reimagined, and understood. In my work I explore the materiality of reconstructive history. I paint and I sculpt, often borrowing from the historical canon, and then alter the work in some way. I cut, crumple, shroud, shred, stitch, tar, twist, bind, erase, break, tear, and turn the paintings and sculptures I create, reconfiguring them into works that nod to hidden narratives and begin to reveal unspoken truths about the nature of history.”
Kaphar continues, “Open areas become active absences, walls enter into the portraits, stretcher bars are exposed, and structures that are typically invisible underneath, behind, or inside the canvas are laid bare, revealing the interiors of the work. In so doing, my aim is to perform what I critique, to reveal something of what has been lost, and to investigate the power of a rewritten history.”
His recent TED Talk “Can Art Amend History?” sparked vibrant debate about the role of underrepresented voices in art history and in museums. It has been viewed more than a million times since it was delivered it in April 2017.
Kaphar was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He received a masters degree in fine arts from the Yale School of Art and is the distinguished recipient of the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship. His work is featured in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum, the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA). Since 2015 he has been represented by the Jack Shainman Gallery in Kinderhook, New York. He lives and works between New York and New Haven, Connecticut.
Claiming Williams Day, an annual day without classes at Williams College, was conceived in 2008 after a series of racist and sexist incidents sparked a grassroots movement to actively prevent hurtful, hateful incidents rather than merely responding afterwards. On Claiming Williams Day each year, campus organizations host panels, discussions, and events focused on building and sustaining a more inclusive community.
Kaphar’s lecture is presented by Ephs at the Clark and WCMA Think Tank, two Williams College student organizations that connect students to museums through student-led programs and opportunities that offer enriching experiences in the visual arts. His visit is underwritten by the Clark, WCMA, and Claiming Williams Day.

The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 270,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit or call 413 458 2303.

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