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Project Wall: Stanley Whitney
April 5, 2019 - October 12, 2019
Representing his first commissioned public art project, internationally recognized artist Stanley Whitney and Kansas City Art Institute alumnus will utilize the H&R Block Artspace Project Wall to deliver an emphatic message.
Known for his painterly, abstract compositions of organic grids with vertical and horizontal bands and blocks in vibrant hues, Whitney’s characteristic approach to painting is as an architect and builder of pictorial color. Parallel to this deep, lifelong study, however, is a smaller and lesser known series of drawings by the artist with words and phrases that explore relationships between text and image and their attendant meanings.
In No to Prison Life, Whitney worked with Guest Curator Larry Ossei-Mensah, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator, to create and contextualize a new work of art for his alma mater. Whitney’s Project Wall intentionally combines painting and drawing to register an urgent public protest against a U.S. judicial system that promotes arrest, incarceration, and other forms of imprisonment that often further damages lives.
Whitney recently introduced the public to the phrase “No to Prison Life” as the title for a painting created for the international Documenta 14 exhibition in Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany, in 2017. In this new context, however, the artist uses his agency to create a work that merges his stylistic painting with a provocative message and in so doing broadcasts an alert regarding the disproportionate number of African Americans in U.S. prisons.