Claremont— The Pomona College Museum of Art is pleased to welcome New York artist activist Alexandra Bell to the Claremont campuses. Bell will mount three works from her public art project Counternarrative. Bell’s work explores how language perpetuates racist narratives; she highlights the hidden language codes, picture choice, and headlines that expose editorial bias in main stream media. Using articles from The New York Times, the paper of record presumed to be a liberal voice, Bell “radically reedits” the articles. She reads, redacts and erases the loaded text and images, revising the stories with racially neutral language and visual imagery that is more descriptive of the headlines she investigates. Her work underscores the importance of examining the veracity and demanding improvements in our news publications.
Bell will give a public talk about her work at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, Mar. 1, 2018 in the Pomona College Museum of Art. A public reception for the artist will follow her presentation. The event is free and open to the public.
Throughout the day on Friday, Mar. 2, 2018, Bell, with the assistance of student volunteers, will mount three Counternarratives at selected locations. Look for Counternarratives: “A Teenager with Promise,” “Olympic Threat,” and “Charlottesville” at the Pomona College Museum of Art, Honnold-Mudd Library, and other sites. The works will be on view through May 13, 2018.
Alexandra Bell holds a masters in print journalism from Columbia University’s prestigious J School. She is a multi-disciplinary artist investigating the complexities of narrative, information consumption, and perception. Bell deconstructs language and imagery to explore the tensions between dominant histories and the experiences of the marginalized. She considers the ways media frameworks construct memory and inform discursive practices around race, politics, and culture. Her work appears in public spaces and has been shown at MoMA PS1 and Bennington College, as well as galleries throughout the east. This will be the first showing of her work on the west coast. In Counternarratives, she exposes how racism is structured, codified and normalized through language and in the persistent decriminalization of whiteness.
Bell’s appearance here complements exhibitions on view at the Pomona College Museum of Art: “Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs” and “tête-à-tête” and student-curated “Establishing Justice: Selections from the Permanent Collection.” These exhibitions challenge viewers’ perceptions of representation and the heteronormative gaze. Bell’s contribution to these visual conversations add an important public layer to the complexity of subjectivity and inclusivity.
Simultaneously, The Claremont Colleges Library will host a curator-created book display and will document and archive the installation and reception of the works. The library will provide opportunities for viewers to give reactions to the artwork and the books.
This project is sponsored by the Pomona College Museum of Art, Pomona College President Starr’s Committee on Diversity (PACD), and The Claremont Colleges Library.