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'The Rest of History' opens at Virginia MOCA
Installation view.

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.- "History is written by the victors." How often have you heard this? This quote often comes into play when talking about a history or story that seems one-sided or incomplete. There is a deep truth at the heart of this glib statement. Those with the most power and influence have, through the centuries, written the script of who we were and, therefore, who we are. The "victors" control the documentation of history. They commission artworks and books, approve history textbooks, and choose the production of movies and television programs. This constructed history is a narrative borne from a specific viewpoint and limited by gender, ethnicity, and class. It is also what defines our values and community. Because of this, society suffers a great loss. It’s like listening to a song with only a few notes or a symphony that only one type of instrument. The experience is narrow and lacks the depth.

The artists in The Rest of History desire a richer, more complex historical narrative. Each one has an artistic practice that brings to light the stories and voices of those overlooked from history. A wider perspective is rarely pretty and questions the moral integrity of everyone involved. But, it also offers a broader range of human stories and a more complex and interesting narrative. Through this exhibition, we can see that there is room for more characters in our human story. We are all better for it.

Gina Adams focuses on broken promises made to Native Americans displayed on the comforting symbol of quilts. Through her exploration of material and subject matter the artist tells a part of American history that has strong personal connections.

Charles Edward Williams’ paints portraits of young black women and men from history highlighting his dedication to the ongoing struggle for racial equality. His Freedom Riders series depicts portraits of women activists from the 1960’s who rode public buses through the South in a multiracial campaign challenging racial segregation.

Mary Reid Kelley combines painting, performance, and distinctive prose in her stylized videos. She delves through history to imagine the viewpoints of overlooked characters, in this case a World War I nurse caring for a soldier as he dies. Rather than merely recounting experiences, Kelley explores their emotional underpinning.

Andrea Geyer specifically focuses on the history of women. She highlights their history and contributions within the context of cultural norms in which they lived. Featured in this exhibition are photographs from her series titled Constellations. They celebrate women who shaped today’s art and cultural landscape.

Fabiola Jean-Louis celebrates the black and brown female body with her photographs and paper sculptures. The history of blacks and specifically, black Americans, was for the most part unrecorded. Jean-Louis asserts the significance of including black women in our historical, cultural, and intellectual lexicon.

The Rest of History reveals that history is no longer a binary of good and bad, winner and loser. Instead, it is a broad, rich, complicated banquet with enough room for everyone at the table. MOCA’s commitment to civic engagement through our exhibitions and educational programming is a driving force behind this timely exhibition. Creating a safe space for the challenging conversations started by The Rest of History reinforces MOCA’s commitment to stimulate critical thinking and dialogue. Join the conversation and help us explore the rest of history.

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