Portrait of a Man illuminates the complexity of characteristics that encompass African American men.
African American men are widely portrayed from a fairly marginal perspective. They are often viewed as only one of two extremes: as threats and menaces or as untouchable superhumans. However, there is a greater range of character that African American men possess. Similarly, portraits can appear to lack depth. Often used as a means to document prestige and importance, portraits can fail to depict the true nuances that epitomize their subjects. The stoic nature of portraits may disconnect the person being immortalized from the communities they serve and the cultures they inspire.
In this exhibit, we want to enhance the humanity of African American men who made an impact within Kansas’ communities and beyond. By using conceptual art and words that speak to each individual’s character and traits, we tap into their essence and celebrate what made all of their accomplishments possible.