Skip page navigation

Skip page navigation

Scholarly conference at IUPUI looks at complexities of art, race and public space

Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Image courtesy of Library of Congress
Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Image courtesy of Library of Congress


December 6, 2012

Contact Information:

View Related Releases:

Share This:

  • Share

INDIANAPOLIS -- Building on ideas that emerged during public debate over a proposed local art project, artists and scholars will participate in an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis symposium exploring the complex relationships among art, race and civic space.

The Art, Race, Space Symposium takes place from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd.

Leaders from Indianapolis’ arts and culture sector will join artists and scholars from around the country for the daylong event. Participants will begin by reflecting on internationally recognized artist Fred Wilson’s "E Pluribus Unum," a public art commission for the Indianapolis Cultural Trail that was canceled in 2011 because of controversy surrounding Wilson’s appropriation of a freed slave figure from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

“Fred Wilson’s proposed statue is the point of departure for this conference, but the event really aspires to have a discussion on race, the material world, and Americans’ half-millennium failure to confront racism and racial privilege,” said Paul Mullins, a symposium participant and chair of the Department of Anthropology in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

“The debate over Wilson’s proposed work superficially revolved around acrimony over stale representations of African America, but it reveals deep-seated sentiments about racial subjectivity and reflects how challenging such discussions remain today. The reception to Wilson’s re-casting of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument freedman underscores the complicated ways racial representations and racial privilege are contested in the contemporary world,” Mullins said.

In order to encourage public dialogue, the symposium, presented by the Museum Studies Program in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and supported by a grant from the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, will provide opportunities for audience members and presenters to engage in conversations throughout the day.

Symposium presenters include a group of experts in public art, race and civic identity in the United States, including Renée Ater, University of Maryland; Amos Brown, Radio One, Indianapolis; Bridget Cooks, UC Irvine; Erika Doss, University of Notre Dame; Linda Duke, Kansas State University; Richard Pierce, University of Notre Dame; Mindy Taylor Ross, Art Strategies, Indianapolis; and Dell Upton, UCLA.

The symposium is free of charge and open to the public, but advance registration is required. For additional information and to register, visit the symposium website.