DETROIT, MICH.- The Detroit Institute of Arts
welcomes a piece by Kerry James Marshall, as a Guest of Honor. Souvenir II is on loan from the Addison Gallery of American Art in Boston and will be on view through August, 2019. This piece is heavily associated with the Civil Rights Movement, and features a prominent Michigan connection.
Souvenir II is set in Marshalls aunts living room where a memorial hangs above the couch. The memorial reads In Memory of and features President John F. Kennedy, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and centered between the Kennedys is Martin Luther King, Jr. In clouds floating above, Marshall depicts - as angels - individuals associated with the Civil Rights Movement who were violently killed between 19591970. The most prominent part of the work is that of a black angel with gold wings, preparing the living rooms memorial setting, holding a vase with flowers, inviting the viewer into the scene. Souvenir II is one of four in a series, narrating the loss of leaders in politics, literature, arts and music.
Among the angels depicted in the clouds is Detroit native Viola Liuzzo, a housewife and 39-year-old mother of five. She was shot by Ku Klux Klan night riders on Highway 80 in Montgomery, Alabama making her way home to Detroit after participating in the Selma to Montgomery marches in the wake of Bloody Sunday. To this day, she is known as the only white woman killed during the Civil Rights Movement. The other angels in the artwork include Medgar Evers, Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Malcolm X and others who were murdered for their work during the Civil Rights Movement.
Welcoming this Guest of Honor by an artist of Kerry James Marshalls prominence advances our progress toward including more artworks by African American artists in the museums galleries, said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA Director. This is certainly a significant educational opportunity for the more than 74,000 students who come to the DIA each year to be inspired by a work of art created by one of the worlds leading artists.
Marshall was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1955, but moved to South Central Los Angeles in 1963. Growing up in the heyday of the Black Power and Civil Rights movements in L.A., his experiences during that time play a significant role in his work today. His work was featured as part of the 30 Americans exhibition at the DIA in Oct., 2015.
Souvenir II is on display outside of the glass gallery in the contemporary gallery space, located on the second floor.