Figuring History at Seattle Art Museum features the work of Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, and Mickalene Thomas, three contemporary American artists from three different generations who challenge the Western tradition of History Painting and its underrepresentation of people of color.

As Black artists, they provide portrayals that center on Black perspectives and experiences and provoke thinking around the processes and power structures that center around history as a social construct. Who authors history? Who is represented in history? Who is figured in history?

The paintings are visually dazzling, monumental in size, and vibrant in their use of color and materials. Two paintings were created specifically for the exhibit at SAM by Kerry James Marshall and Mickalene Thomas.

SAM has created a dynamic lineup of events supporting the exhibition:

  • Friday April 6, Kitchen Sessions; SAM partnered with poet and educator Imani Sims and The Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas for an evening that explores themes of the exhibition. Tickets range from $15-20.
  • Saturday April 14, Legendary Children: Featuring performances, DJs, and art from some of Seattle’s most talented queer and transgender artists of color. It’s free, and you’ll get to see the special exhibition. Please RSVP.

SAM Members enjoy unlimited FREE admission, early access and special discounts.

Priya Frank, SAM's Associate Director for Community Programs and co-chair of SAM's Equity Team joins us to discuss the exhibition and the artists.

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