Like A World That I Was From

Artists Collection Exhibitions Staff

Naomi Beckwith recalls seeing Kerry James Marshall's Souvenir at the MCA before she was a curator.

I grew up in Chicago and used to spend a fair amount of time in the MCA way before I ever thought I would be a curator. And I remember one of the most prescient moments for me in these galleries was seeing a work by Kerry James Marshall, Souvenir. And when I saw that work, I thought this would have been a work I could create it if I could paint. It was a work that felt so present to me, because the scenario itself looked like my grandmother’s house—which is to say it looked like a world that I was from. And it was the first time in seeing an art project I could see something that related to my life. It didn’t just relate to ideas, it didn’t relate to just beauty, it didn’t relate to history. It related to me particularly. And knowing that this is a museum that holds work that can relate to individuals is important and fundamental to the work that I do and the stories that I want to tell to my audiences.

Kerry James Marshall, Souvenir I, 1997. Acrylic and glitter on canvas banner; 108 × 157 in. (274.3 × 398.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund, 1997.73. Photo: Joe Ziolkowski, © MCA Chicago.

Kerry James Marshall, Souvenir I, 1997. Acrylic and glitter on canvas banner; 108 × 157 in. (274.3 × 398.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund, 1997.73. Photo: Joe Ziolkowski, © MCA Chicago.

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