LAWRENCE — The Spencer Museum of Art has acquired major works by artists Dread Scott and Fahamu Pecou. The two paintings are currently on view at the museum as part of the exhibition “Black Writing,” which explores the power, politics and complexities of language in contemporary Black culture. The exhibition, which will remain open through Jan. 7, 2024, was developed in partnership with the History of Black Writing (HBW) and celebrates HBW’s 40th anniversary by bringing the visual and literary arts together.
Pecou’s painting, titled “Parable of the Sower: Oya’s Dream,” was commissioned by the Spencer Museum as part of its Common Work of Art program, which serves as a companion to KU’s annual Common Book selection. Inspired by Octavia Butler’s novel “Parable of the Sower,” “Oya’s Dream” is part of Pecou’s “Trapademia: Lit” series, which juxtaposes Black bodies with famous literary works by Black authors. The painting is the first by Pecou to enter the Spencer Museum’s collection and is a purchase made through the R. Charles and Mary Margaret Clevenger Fund.
Pecou will give a public talk about creating “Oya’s Dream” at 4 p.m. Nov. 30 at the Spencer Museum. After “Black Writing” closes in January, the painting will remain on view in the Spencer Museum’s Brosseau Learning Center through the current academic year ending in May.
Scott’s painting “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” (2023) is part of a series of works inspired by protest songs sung by Nina Simone to explore the enduring presence and effects of white supremacy and patriarchy in contemporary American culture. It is the first work by Scott to enter the Spencer Museum’s collection and comes to the museum as a promised gift.
“The artworks in ‘Black Writing’ have provided a rich depth of opportunity for dialogue and engagement with our campus and public communities. The paintings by Dread Scott and Fahamu Pecou express Black experience within the development of American history and narrative, and we are delighted to bring them into the Spencer’s collection,” said Saralyn Reece Hardy, Spencer Museum director.
Top right image: Fahamu Pecou, “Parable of the Sower: Oya’s Dream,” 2023, acrylic, canvas, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Museum purchase: R. Charles and Mary Margaret Clevenger Art Acquisition Fund, 2023.0089.
Bottom right image: Dread Scott, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” 2023, body print, screen print, gold leaf, tar, feathers, canvas, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Promised gift
Bottom right image: “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” Dread Scott.