Gibbes lecture looks at how museum exhibitions — including its own — play a role in social justice

How far have they come in 10 years?


The original exhibition was considered a "museum intervention" of sorts. - RICK RHODES PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Rick Rhodes Photography
  • The original exhibition was considered a "museum intervention" of sorts.
In 2009, the Gibbes Museum of Art collaborated with artists Juan Logan and Susan Harbage Page to examine the Gibbes collection and its collecting habits in the context of race, class, and gender.

This collaboration resulted in an installation, Prop Master, which was designed to highlight the role the Gibbes and museums in general play in shaping social norms and "reinforcing power structures" based on what they choose to exhibit and, of course, what they choose to exclude.

Now, 10 years after the fact, the Gibbes hosts a lecture exploring Prop Master's impact on the Gibbes and Charleston.

Prop Master Revisited: Race, Response, and Representation will be held on Wed. May 15 at 6 p.m. at the Gibbes. Tickets are $10 for members and students/faculty and $15 for non-members.

Panelists include Sara Arnold, Gibbes director of curatorial affairs; Harlan Greene, head of special collections at CofC; Juan Logan, an artist who worked on the project a decade ago; director of education and engagement at the International African American Museum, Brenda Tindal; and professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross, Stephanie Yuhl. P&C writer Adam Parker will moderate.

City Paper writer Laura Stokes wrote about the exhibition when it debuted, noting that the name comes from the title of a person who is responsible for all the props on a theater's set. In Prop Master, Logan and Harbage Page treated the museum as a stage — one that critiqued the Gibbes and its collecting habits.
Perhaps most notable about the 2009 exhibition was the collection of thousands of tiny boxes that were meant the reflect the lack of black artists in the Gibbes' collection.

The Gibbes has made strides in its collections since then, acknowledging the importance of Prop Master in its description of current exhibition, New Acquisitions Featuring Works by African American Artists. It reads, "Since the close of the Prop Master exhibition nearly ten years ago, the museum has added 28 new works by African American artists, including David Driskell, Sam Doyle, Leo Twiggs, Kara Walker and Mary Jackson."

Is 28 enough? Find out the answer to that question, and more, at next Wednesday's discussion.

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