September 9, 2013

Du Bois in Our Time

Events and landmark exhibition celebrate the legacy of the late civil rights leader, writer, and sociologist
A detail from the cut-paper work Held, February 23 2013, by Mary Evans, one of 10 artists featured in the Du Bois in Our Time exhibition. Photograph by Remi Abudu.

From September 10 when the landmark exhibition Du Bois in Our Time opens at the University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA), until December 8, when the exhibition closes, the campus and its environs will abound with rich opportunities to contemplate how W.E.B. Du Bois remains a man closely connected to our time.

The UMCA exhibition includes 10 commissioned works from artists inspired by the legacy of the civil rights leader, writer, and sociologist who died 50 years ago. The artists include Ann Messner, who used the FBI files on Du Bois in her artwork; LaToya Ruby Frazier, who based her contribution on a Du Bois essay; and Carrie Mae Weems, who named a flower “The Du Bois Peony of Hope.”

There is a public reception with artists and scholars for the exhibition on September 27 at 5 p.m.

On September 28, Du Bois in Our Time, an international symposium, takes place in the Student Union Ballroom. Historians, social scientist, artists, political activists, writers, curators, and students will share their understandings of the connections of Du Bois to the 21st century. The symposium is open to the public and is free of charge.

Related fall events include a screening of a film documenting the project; lectures, discussions, poetry, and music on campus and in Springfield; and a bus trip to the Du Bois homesite in Great Barrington.

“We’re shedding a new light on Du Bois through the eyes of contemporary artists and scholars,” says Loretta Yarlow, director of the UMCA. “The problems Du Bois wrote about are still with us and many are more urgent than ever. Du Bois in Our Time explores the intersection of art and the major issues of our time with emphasis on the Du Bois legacy and the causes he championed.”