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Media Advisory: Press preview with artist for “Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now”

April 26, 2018

WHAT:          Press preview with artist for “Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now”

WHEN:          Thursday, May 10

                        10–11:30 a.m.

WHERE:       Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and G streets N.W.

WHO:             Kim Sajet, director, National Portrait Gallery

Asma Naeem, curator of prints, drawings and media arts, National Portrait Gallery

Artist: Camille Utterback, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow

The National Portrait Gallery presents the first major museum exhibition to explore silhouettes in terms of their rich historical roots and powerful contemporary presence. “Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now,” opening May 11 and continuing through March 10, 2019, features mixed-media installations in a presentation of nearly 50 unique objects from 1796 to the present.

The historical portion of the exhibition, which focuses on those who have been previously “blacked out” in historical narratives, includes silhouettes of same-sex couples, cooks, activist women, enslaved individuals and disability pioneers. The presentation features selections from the museum’s vast holdings of silhouettes by Auguste Edouart and William Bache, along with such rare gems as the life-size profile of a 19-year-old enslaved woman named Flora, whose silhouette was discovered with an original bill of sale from 1796, wherein she was sold for 25 pounds sterling.

“Black Out” also highlights work by leading contemporary women artists who employ silhouettes: panoramic wall murals by Kara Walker; an interactive digital work that reacts to visitors’ movements and shadows by MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Camille Utterback; an 18-foot-tall installation by Canadian artist Kristi Malakoff featuring life-size cut-outs of children dancing playfully around a Maypole; and intricate installations by New York-based artist Kumi Yamashita (a finalist in the Portrait Gallery’s 2013 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition).

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