Mar. 10
Apr. 07

Resilience, Resistance, & Remembrance

March 10, 2022 – April 7, 2022
Decker Library
1401 W Mt Royal Ave
Promotional image with text, the Decker Library logo, and rectangular images of artist books.

From March 10 to April 7, 2022, the Decker Library is hosting a new exhibit of artist books which present visual narratives of human experience that transgress, transcend, or transform often traumatic experiences and speak to the resilience of the human spirit. “Resilience, Resistance, & Remembrance” features artist books from the Decker Library Special Collections materials alongside artist books from “Nine Artists|Nine Months|Nine Perspectives: Birth of 2020 Visions”, a collaborative artist book project reflecting on the events of 2020 created by members of the Dandelion: Black Women Artists collective. Works from the Decker collection include, “Fifty Years of Silence: Eva Kellner’s Story” by Tatana Kellner, presenting the memories of the artist’s mother, a survivor of internment in WWII concentration camps. This interactive sculptural book contrasts memories of happy times with those of trauma, demonstrating Eva’s resilience. Also included from the Decker collection is Kara Walker’s “Freedom, A Fable: A Curious Interpretation of the Wit of a Negress in Troubled Times”. This book takes its inspiration from the literary memoirs of former slaves, both real and imagined, challenging the viewer to recognize and resist negative stereotypes and racial prejudice. Alongside these and other selections from the Decker collection are nine collaborative artist books created by the Dandelion: Black Women Artists collective over the course of nine months, 2020-2021, each book with its own theme. Each artist created a book measuring 12”x12” or smaller and after completing their entry passed the book to another artist in the collective. Pamela Lawton’s book, “Retablos of Resistance”, was made from an altered antique book envisioned as an altar reminiscent of retablos and ex-votos she encountered in Mexico. These small book-sized altars comprise small narrative paintings that: depict a tragedy or someone with a grave illness/injury; a saint or martyr that intervenes to ‘save the day;’ and an inscription or short narrative describing the event and giving thanks for the divine intervention. Gail Shaw-Clemons' book is an homage to the crocodile, a fierce animal considered a symbol of adaptability by the Akan people of Ghana. It has its own proverb, “The crocodile lives in the water, yet breathes the air.” The crocodile is a metaphor for Black people, who constantly have to adapt and be resilient to survive and thrive. This exhibition encourages the viewer to reflect on their own histories, memories, and sources of strength in envisioning and building a more just, empathetic, and harmonious future, particularly for intersectional identities and marginalized cultural groups. Curated by Pamela Harris Lawton, Florence Gaskins Harper Endowed Chair in Art Education at the Maryland Institute College of Art.