Local Models from the Exhibition by Kehinde Wiley Share Their Stories at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Celebration

In October, Saint Louis Art Museum opened “Kehinde Wiley: St. Louis,” an exhibition in which the acclaimed artist selected residents from North St. Louis and Ferguson as models for his latest works. The museum has organized a host of programming to coincide with the exhibition, including tours and gallery talks by the exhibition’s curators, Simon Kelly and Hannah Klemm, and a lecture by Larry Ossei-Mensah, who was recently appointed senior curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. This month, SLAM will also host its annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Celebration to coincide with Wiley’s exhibition.

At 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18, SLAM offers “Dreaming in Color: Arts, Equity and Inclusion.” The program includes models featured in Wiley’s portraits, who will discuss their experiences posing for the artist, their perspectives on occupying space in a major art institution and how art history has impacted them. For many of the models, it is their first time seeing their likeness featured not only in such large scale, but also seeing themselves, as black residents of St. Louis, depicted at all in such an institution.

Local Models from the Exhibition by Kehinde Wiley Share Their Stories at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Celebration

Image courtesy of Saint Louis Art Museum.

Previous Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Celebrations at the museum have included a 2018 lecture by fine art photographer Sheila Pree Bright, who discussed the connections between 1960s social justice movements to contemporary movements, and a 2017 lecture by Washington University professor Rebecca Wanzo, who discussed how images were used to promote full citizenship rights for African-Americans during the Civil Rights era.

The event on Jan. 18 in the Farrell Auditorium is free and open to the public, but those interested in attending need to register online for an admission ticket. In addition to the aforementioned events, SLAM will also host a teen workshop and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the exhibition. For more information on events and related topics, visit the exhibition’s webpage.

Update: The event on Jan. 18 is sold out, but free tickets are still available for the final event on Sunday, Feb. 10, at which several models will also discuss their experience. Advance registration is required through the event page “The Making of Kehinde Wiley: St. Louis.”Curators Simon Kelly and Hannah Klemm and Renée Franklin, director of audience development, will also speak. 

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