KU’s Spencer Museum of Art hosting ‘Black Writing’ exhibit; will be site of marathon book reading session

photo by: Courtesy: Ryan Waggoner/University of Kansas

Two murals titled “Black is Beautiful” by artist Paul Stephen Benjamin are featured at the Spencer Museum of Art’s “Black Writing” exhibition.

An exhibit that creates a fusion between contemporary art and Black writing has opened at KU’s Spencer Museum of Art.

“Black Writing” opened on Saturday and will remain on display at Spencer, 1301 Mississippi St., on the University of Kansas campus, until Jan. 7.

A centerpiece of the exhibit is an artwork called “Black is Beautiful” by Atlanta artist Paul Stephen Benjamin, which displays stream of consciousness writing that the author produced over the past year while meditating on the phrase “Black is beautiful.”

Benjamin would regularly sit at a typewriter and type the words “Black is beautiful,” but he also would add other words that came into his life — via the radio or a visitor or some other means — while he was meditating.

His words now fill two large walls at Spencer as part of the exhibit.

Other elements of the exhibit include information about KU’s History of Black Writing research project, an artwork by New York artist Dread Scott titled “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” plus works from at least five other artists.

An opening reception for the exhibit is set for 4 p.m. Wednesday, where Benjamin will be in the gallery performing his “Black if Beautiful” meditation. On Nov. 29 to Nov. 30, the museum gallery will be the site of a marathon reading of the KU Common Book “Parable of the Sower,” a 1993 post-apocalyptic novel that has a plot that revolves around themes of social inequality and climate change.


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