KU announces 2017 Common Work of Art

Carrie Mae Weems, “Magenta Colored Girl,” 1989, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas

The Spencer Museum of Art earlier this week announced this year’s University of Kansas Common Work of Art.

“Magenta Colored Girl,” a 1989 photographic print by American contemporary artist Carrie Mae Weems, will accompany the 2017-2018 KU Common Book, Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric,” in university programming this fall.

Both “Magenta Colored Girl” and “Citizen” illustrate aspects of racism through form and content, the Spencer Museum’s news release said. Rankine’s genre-bending book uses poetry, images and narrative to document race relations in 21st-century America. Among the book’s imagery is “Blue Black Boy,” another work by Weems from the same series as “Magenta Colored Girl.”

The Common Work of Art will remain on display at the Spencer Museum’s Jack and Lavon Brosseau Center for Learning throughout the fall semester, the museum said, with text from two pages of “Citizen” reproduced on one wall of the center.

“Through the Common Work of Art, the Spencer Museum of Art is part of a vibrant shared experience that unites our university’s first-year students,” Kate Meyer, the museum’s curator of works on paper, said in the news release. “We want all KU students to know that the Spencer is a place for them.”

As with past Common Books, incoming freshmen and transfer students each received a copy of “Citizen” at orientation. A series of programming, including a visit from the author Sept. 7 at the Lied Center, has been planned for the 2017-2018 school year.

Common Work of Art programming includes the installation “In Conversation with the 2017-2018 Common Book” at the Spencer Museum’s Jack and Lavon Brosseau Center, on display now through Sept. 10. The installation will draw from the Spencer’s collection to “create a larger conversation about themes in ‘Citizen’ through works of art,” the news release said.

This year’s Common Work of Art initiative is supported by the Jedel Family Foundation.

Other Common Work of Art-related programs include a screening of the 2017 documentary “Whose Streets?”, about the 2014 killing of Michael Brown and the resulting uprising in Ferguson, Mo. The movie will be screened as part of the Global Film Festival, a series of films curated by first-year students, at the Spencer Museum auditorium from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13.