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Artist Kerry James Marshall To Deliver The Annual Plonsker Family Lecture in Contemporary Art

For immediate release: September 7, 2011

The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) announced today that renowned Chicago based artist Kerry James Marshall will deliver the Annual Plonsker Family Lecture in Contemporary Art. The lecture will take place on Thursday, September 22 at 7:00 pm at the Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall on the Williams College campus. This is a free public event and all are invited to attend.

An internationally recognized artist, Kerry James Marshall employs a broad range of art historical references from Renaissance painting to black folk art to comic books to create complex and dramatic works often on a large scale. His art explores contemporary issues in urban America and highlights the invisibility of African Americans in the history of Western art. He draws upon aspects of African-American popular culture in his paintings, sculptures and installations, reflecting the social and political context of his upbringing. According to Marshall: “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central [Los Angeles] near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility. You can’t move to Watts in 1963 and not speak about it. That determined a lot of where my work was going to go.” Informed by this social perspective, Marshall has created artwork that examines and critiques African American lives in barbershops, middle class homes, housing projects and churches. His work has been described as not only socially engaging but also formally rigorous.

The Annual Plonsker Family Lecture in Contemporary Art

The Plonsker Family Lecture Series in Contemporary Art was established in 1994 by Madeleine Plonsker, Harvey Plonsker (Class of 1961) and their son, Ted Plonsker (Class of 1986), to examine current issues in contemporary art. Past events include the symposium “Jackson Pollock: Beneath the Surface, A Tribute to Kirk Varnedoe ’67“; and lectures by acclaimed artists Gregory Crewdson, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Vik Muniz, Carolee Schneemann, and Kara Walker.

About the artist

Kerry James Marshall was born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama, and raised in Los Angeles. He received his BFA from the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1978 and an honorary doctorate in 1999. In 1997 Marshall was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. From 1993 to 2006, he taught at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Marshall’s work has been included in such prestigious exhibitions as the 2003 Venice Biennale; 1999/2000 Carnegie International; the 1997 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; and documenta X in Kassel, Germany in 1997. Marshall has work in many collections throughout the world including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His solo exhibitions include shows at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Art Basel, Switzerland; the Wexner Center, Columbus, Ohio; and the Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

In addition, Marshall has been the production designer for the films Daughters of the Dust and Praise House directed by Julie Dash, Sankofa directed by Haile Gerima, and Hendrix Project directed by Arthur Jafa.

Williams College Museum of Art

The Williams College Museum of Art is located on Main Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The museum is wheelchair accessible and open to the public. Admission is FREE. For more information, contact the museum at (413) 597-2429 or visit