This Wednesday night Diverse Works and the University of Houston School of Art brings two great creatives together for an evening of conversation. Diverse Discourse will bring Whitney Biennial Co-Curators Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks to Houston to talk of their collective backgrounds, curatorial histories, and experience with the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Locks and Lew both maintain impressive curatorial back stories and have even overlapped in their careers at PS1 MOMA in New York. Both have been key engineers in the national curatorial conversation and have produced a vast number of exhibitions and projects.
The 2017 Whitney Biennial, the seventy-eighth installment of the longest-running survey of American art, arrived at a time rife with racial tensions, economic inequities, and polarizing politics. Throughout the exhibition, artists challenged us to consider how these realities affect our senses of self and community. The Biennial featured 63 individuals and collectives whose work takes a wide variety of forms, from painting and installation to activism and video-game design. Christopher Y. Lew’s and Mia Locks’ edition of The Whitney Biennial counted ‘the formation of self’ and ‘the individual’s place in a turbulent society’ amongst its primary themes.
“How does one remain fearlessly true to themselves when powerful forces seek to diminish the identities of so many humans that aren’t rich, white and male? How do we not become complacent in the face of white nationalism as the new standard?” Forbes Magazine had fittingly asked this summer.
The impressive line up this year included many power hitters such as William Pope L., but also included many unknown or underrepresented artists as well such as Rafa Esparza and Maya Stovall. The two young curators had a large task to take on during such a trying time within our country as well as globally. It’s been a challenging time for many professionals as the’ve watched the identity of the US comes in question, with our citizens being faced with racism, white nationalism, and nazi-influenced flare ups on a daily basis.
Although many of this year’s works were chosen from a time before our current president, the radical ideas, and civil injustices are still ever present as the conversation continues in our current political climate. Both Lew and Locks have pulled the stops with their direction, and the Whitney Biennial, at the new Whitney digs, proves to stand alone once again with a powerful curatorial direction.
Diverse Discourse, an ongoing cultural dialog, presents a not-to-disappoint evening of discussion of past, present and future. If the lecture is anywhere near the intensity of the Co-Curators Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks curatorial background, Diverse Discourse is sure to provide an insightful night of radical movements and stirring political themes through art.
The Fall 2017 Diverse Discourse Lecture takes place at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at the Dudley Recital Hall (Fine Arts Building, Room 132) at the University of Houston.