God Made My Face at Mead Art Museum
From February 24th through July 9th, Amherst college's Mead Art Museum will present a special iteration of God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin, a group exhibition originally organized by Hilton Als for David Zwirner Gallery in 2019. It presents works from artists including Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Diane Arbus, Marlene Dumas, Alice Neel, and James Welling alongside archival materials in order to explore the life, work, and legacy of James Baldwin (1924–1987). Baldwin’s ways of seeing and being evolved through his relationships and exposure to the work of visual artists, during an era when the harsh realities of racial oppression were confronted with aesthetics emphasizing self-love, pride, and validation.
God Made My Face explores Baldwin through his words, relationships, and the works of other artists produced during his own lifetime and today. Unbeknownst to many, Baldwin served as professor and Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities at UMass Amherst from 1983-86, finding a home within the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies and teaching students from across the Five Colleges.
Hilton Als is best known for his extensive body of cultural criticism and increasingly appreciated for his curatorial work, including his most recent 2022 exhibition at David Zwirner, Toni Morrison’s Black Book. Along with organizing this iteration of God Made My Face, Als will also be an Amherst College 2022-2023 Presidential Scholar.
Learn more about the exhibition at Mead Art Museum.
Cover image: Marlene Dumas, James Baldwin, 2014. © Marlene Dumas