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Art of the Month Club: Laurel O’Connor

The Art of the Month Club is a regular feature of the WCMA blog. Each month we invite someone special to write about a work from our collection. Find your own favorite WCMA artwork by searching our collection database. You never know, we may invite you to be the next Art of the Month Club member. Today, please welcome Laurel O’Connor, Class of 2015, Studio Art and American Studies Major.


Sometimes art has a way of nuzzling against your curiosity and tugging you back to look a little longer and a little deeper. For me, Carrie Mae Weems’s “Kitchen Series” is just that kind of ‘sometimes art.’ I first saw WCMA’s pieces from the series in 2012, during a show curated by Dalila Scruggs and Sandra Burton called African Americans and the American Scene. Though at the time I was relatively new to Williams and certainly a newcomer to WCMA, Weems’s artwork pulled me back to the museum multiple times.

The more involved I became with the exhibit, the more involved I found myself with the people who visited and worked at the gallery. I was no longer just attached to Weems’s pieces or the show as a whole, but instead invested in the people bringing these ideas to life. For me Weems’s pieces not only coaxed me to delve deeper into issues of representation of the black experience within the United States, but also to gain a better understanding of how these issues connected to a broader artistic community.

As a studio art major concerned with obscuring our understandings of everyday experiences, specifically our understandings of race, gender, space, and place, for me Weems’s pieces are examples of art’s power to open up these conversations. Part of the reason I was so surprised at my own involved reaction to this show was because I had never before considered the role of an art museum in instigating and facilitating these conversations. Through Weems, I came to realize the vital importance of places such as WCMA not only as houses of art, but also of dialogue. Museums don’t have to be stale capsules, instead they can work as forums, an open platform that instigates people to question, experience, and perhaps look around in a new way.

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