Fall 2012-Spring 2013

Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw

Under the auspices of the Spiegel Freshman Seminar in Contemporary Art, Professor Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw and Dr. Jennifer Burris, the Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow at Penn's Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), began working with a group of first-year students on an exhibition that opened at the ICA in late April 2013. The focus of the exhibition was "Un/Becoming," a solo show of work by the American artist Glenn Ligon that was organized and mounted at the ICA in 1994. Students were charged with researching the original exhibition through its archival remains in the files of the ICA and the special collections located in Van Pelt Library. In order to better understand the artist's sources and legacy, members of the seminar read and discussed the history of African American literature, art and visual culture, as well as the contemporary art scene as it relates to themes of race, gender, and sexuality—all topics that are of special interest to the artist. By providing a glimpse into the profound impact of the 1994 show and Ligon's subsequent work, the course and exhibition illuminated related artistic production by other, younger artists and examined evolving exhibition practices at the ICA and elsewhere.