IN CONVERSATION | Committed to Memory: The Art of the Slave Ship Icon
6:30 PM18:30

IN CONVERSATION | Committed to Memory: The Art of the Slave Ship Icon

Join us for a conversation about how an eighteenth-century engraving of a slave ship became a cultural icon of black resistance, identity, and remembrance with Cheryl Finley, author of Committed to Memory: The Art of the Slave Ship Icon, and artist Andrew Wilson, who employs the icon in his work which was previously on view at MoAD. The conversation will be moderated by UC Berkeley Professor Leigh Raiford.

One of the most iconic images of slavery is a schematic wood engraving depicting the human cargo hold of a slave ship. First published by British abolitionists in 1788, it exposed this widespread commercial practice for what it really was–shocking, immoral, barbaric, unimaginable. Printed as handbills and broadsides, the image Cheryl Finley has termed the “slave ship icon” was easily reproduced, and by the end of the eighteenth century it was circulating by the tens of thousands around the Atlantic rim. Committed to Memory provides the first in-depth look at how this artifact of the fight against slavery became an enduring symbol of black resistance, identity, and remembrance.

Finley traces how the slave ship icon became a powerful tool in the hands of British and American abolitionists, and how its radical potential was rediscovered in the twentieth century by black artists, activists, writers, filmmakers, and curators. Finley offers provocative new insights into the works of Amiri Baraka, Romare Bearden, Betye Saar, and many others. She demonstrates how the icon was transformed into poetry, literature, visual art, sculpture, performance, and film—and became a medium through which diasporic Africans have reasserted their common identity and memorialized their ancestors.

Beautifully illustrated, Committed to Memory features works from around the world, taking readers from the United States and England to West Africa and the Caribbean. It shows how contemporary black artists and their allies have used this iconic eighteenth-century engraving to reflect on the trauma of slavery and come to terms with its legacy.

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to Mar 24

Bay Area Now 8

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The only survey exhibition of its kind in Northern California, YBCA's signature triennial BAY AREA NOW returns in its eighth manifestation as a key component of YBCA's 25th anniversary season.

At a time when the challenges facing artists in the Bay Area continue to mount — from rising rents and displacement to too few venues that can elevate and support emerging artists — an exhibition that focuses on what is being created in studios across the region is not just desirable, but vital.

Selected through a process of studio visits conducted from fall 2017 through spring 2018, the exhibition showcases visual artists in a broad range of creative practices, including painting, photography, ceramics, textiles, video installation, and digital media. For the first time in its history, Bay Area Now also includes architects and designers working at the leading edge of environmental, landscape, and housing design.

The picture that emerges — of both the region and the artists who call it home — presents a resilient Bay Area, where humor and care come together with intimate reflections on individual and personal histories, and where bodies and geographies propose a fluid understanding of race, gender, and nature. Using materials as surrogates for gender and environmental politics, the participants point to an in-between space that, by rejecting rigid dichotomies, suggests a delicate optimism.

In celebration of the artists and curators who took part in previous editions, as well as the current state of YBCA as an institution, the exhibition research and text materials will include a look back at the history of Bay Area Now.

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to Oct 7

What We Make

“What We Make,” a full-museum exhibit drawing on “socially and politically engaged art practices to consider how we build communities that are capable of working together across difference,” at the Richard M. Ross Art Museum, 60 S. Sandusky St., Delaware.

In addition to traditional media, the exhibit will incorporate sound and video, and selections from the Interference Archive. “What We Make” is being exhibited as part of the 2018-2019 Sagan National Colloquium, and audiences are invited to sign up for related public workshops at

The exhibit’s diverse artist list includes Doug Ashford, Robby Herbst, Tomashi Jackson, Christine Sun-Kim, Anna Teresa Fernandez, and 2013 OWU alumnus Andrew Wilson.

Curated by Erin Fletcher, museum director, and Ashley Biser, Ph.D., associate professor of politics and government, the exhibition will feature a curator-led tour at 4 p.m. followed by a public reception from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 23.

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to Jun 2

Equivalencies: Abandoned Bodies

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Equivalencies: Abandoned Bodies thinks through the ways in which we remember people in relationship to their physical space and the objects associated with their bodies. This exhibition investigates how we remember the dead, asking us to contemplate the parallels between those who have passed and our enduring memories, as we take them with us in the future.

Multimedia artist, Andrew Wilson, uses the measurements from stowage system of the infamous slave ship Brookes, to creates what can be perceived as graves or plinths. In comparable scale and organization with the ship, each platform holds objects of the deceased – a sewing machine, bronze cotton boll husks, cowrie shell regalia, an American Empire chair, a pocket watch, human hair and crowns. Each item serves as a reminder of the departed individuals, and also elevates these mundane objects to a supernatural realm.

In addition to this display, Wilson presents a video installation that documents the cutting of his dreadlocks during the last critique of his MFA at UC Berkeley. There are many ways this can be read and is up to the interpretation of the viewer to place this spectacle.

Equivalencies: Abandoned Bodies aims to process through the slippage between life and death and honoring of the ephemeral objects left behind. In this way, this work eulogizes those who have passed and who walk with us today in spirit.

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