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School of Beauty, School of Culture, 2012, Kerry James Marshall, acrylic and glitter on unstretched canvas, 108 x 158 in., Birmingham Museum of Art, Museum purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth (Bibby) Smith, the Collectors Circle for Contemporary Art, Jane Comer, the Sankofa Society, and general acquisition funds, 2012.57, © Kerry James Marshall.
Seattle Art Museum
Published: 19 December 2017

SEATTLE, WA – The Seattle Art Museum presents Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas (Feb. 15 – May 13, 2018), bringing together for the first time three leading American artists from three different generations whose work challenges a Western painting tradition that historically erases or misrepresents people of color.

While each artist’s paintings are distinctive in style, subject matter, and the historic moments they reference, collectively they critique and redefine mainstream narratives of history and representation. At the heart of these artists’ portrayals are material and cultural histories centered on Black experiences and perspectives.

Organized by the Seattle Art Museum, the exhibition comprises 25 large-scale paintings on loan from institutions and collections across the country.

It features a work from SAM’s collection — the recently acquired Les Demoiselles d'Alabama: Vestidas (1985) by Robert Colescott — as well as three paintings made by Mickalene Thomas specifically for the exhibition. She also presents a staged “living room” installation that visitors can interact with and sit in.

The living artists, Kerry James Marshall and Mickalene Thomas, will appear in conversation about their artistic practices at a free opening celebration.



Art Beyond Sight and docent tours, as well as programs for educators and school groups, will be held in conjunction with the exhibition in addition to the following public and family programs. Details are subject to change; additional programs or events may be added.

For the most up-to-date information, go to visitsam.org/figuringhistory.


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