Document the image, influence and activism of Angela Davis with some 220 objects, Angela Davis – Seize the Time not only examines her arrest, incarceration, trial, and national and international campaigns for her release, but also positions her as a permanent touchstone for contemporary artists. Inspired by and centered on a collection compiled by Oakland Archivist Lisbet Tellefsen, the exhibition is on view at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University through June 15, 2022.
In 1969, Angela Davis was fired from UCLA, accused of participating in a shooting that resulted in the deaths of four men, and placed on the FBI’s most wanted list. She spent several months on the run until her arrest. Her image has become the center and tool of an unprecedented international effort to free an imprisoned black woman.
Works by black artists who produced art in support of Davis during this time – including Félix Beltrán, Herb Bruce, Elizabeth Catlett, Wadsworth Jarrell and Faith Ringgold – are displayed in the museum’s galleries alongside anonymous posters of activists. Coverage of his trial and acquittal in 1972 is presented through television footage, magazines, press photographs, court sketches and legal writings.
Archival material is combined with works by contemporary artists – Terry Boddie, Bethany Collins, Mel Edwards, Renée Green, Yevgeniy Fiks, Juan Sanchez, Carrie Schneider, Stephen Tourlentes and Keith Walsh, among others – to explore how images , music and words update and revisit Davis’ shared memories and issues she has been committed to for over 50 years.
For more information, visit zimmerli.rutgers.edu.
The exhibition is co-curated by Donna Gustafson, Curator of American Art at Zimmerli and Director of University Programs at Mellon, and Gerry Beegan, Professor of Art and Design at Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts in Rutgers University, with the help of an advisory group of intersectional scholars, artists, activists and archivists, including Nicole Fleetwood, Daonne Huff, Ericka Huggins, Steffani Jemison and Lisbet Tellefsen. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog of the same title, available at the museum and from Hirmer and the University of Chicago Press. It is also traveling to the Oakland Museum of California in fall 2022.