April Friends Lecture features MacArthur Fellow

April 2, 2020 11:00 am


Pillsbury Auditorium

Ticket Price: Free

Titus Kaphar imagines a renewed and more nuanced engagement with American history in his April lecture “Making Space for Black History.”

Titus Kaphar


“Art is a language. There is always a narrative coded in the painting and sculpture. When you look at something, ask yourself, “who is represented and who is invisible?” asks Titus Kaphar.  A painter and sculptor, Kaphar is one of the country’s most exciting young artists. In 2018, he received a MacArthur Fellowship– a 5-year award given to individuals who show exceptional creativity and outstanding talent in their work. 

Kaphar imagines a renewed and more nuanced engagement with American history: envisioning new spaces for marginalized or forgotten bodies to enter and disrupt the evolving fabric of a culture. For this creator, the artist’s role is clear– to draw back the curtain on ignorance and deception and amplify the voices to those who cannot speak for themselves. 

Kaphar’s work speaks to issues around race, diversity and social change in America today. TIME Magazine commissioned him to create an artwork in response to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Recently, he worked with poet Reginal Dwayne Betts on The Redaction, which draws inspiration from lawsuits on behalf of people incarcerated because they cannot pay the court fees and fines. In Drawing the Blinds, Kaphar re-mixes the work of Classical and Renaissance painters to reveal forgotten figures. 

Kaphar’s works capture Roosevelt riding a horse and boldly staring into the future while nameless African Americans and Indigenous people walk on foot beside him. Who are the anonymous slaves, servants, and laborers appearing as footnotes? What values are being expressed by the constitutional monuments dotting our American Landscape? And why do we skip over chapters (entire peoples, entire histories) in our national narratives? 

To help support and give direction to the next generation of artists, Kaphar co-founded an arts incubator, NXTHVN. This $12 million nonprofit center and fellowship program nurtures rising talents.

Kaphar’s work has been included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and the Seattle Art Museum. He received an MFA from the Yale School of Art and a BFA from San Jose State University.

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